Water electrolysis is the most promising method for efficient production of high purity hydrogen (and oxygen), while the required power input for the electrolysis process can be provided by renewable sources (e.g. solar or wind). The thus produced hydrogen can be used either directly as a fuel or as a reducing agent in chemical processes, such as in Fischer–Tropsch synthesis. Water splitting can be realized both at low temperatures (typically below 100 °C) and at high temperatures (steam water electrolysis at 500–1000 °C), while different ionic agents can be electrochemically transferred during the electrolysis process (OH−, H+, O2−). Singular requirements apply in each of the electrolysis technologies (alkaline, polymer electrolyte membrane and solid oxide electrolysis) for ensuring high electrocatalytic activity and long-term stability. The aim of the present article is to provide a brief overview on the effect of the nature and structure of the catalyst–electrode materials on the electrolyzer's performance. Past findings and recent progress in the development of efficient anode and cathode materials appropriate for large-scale water electrolysis are presented. The current trends, limitations and perspectives for future developments are summarized for the diverse electrolysis technologies of water splitting, while the case of CO2/H2O co-electrolysis (for synthesis gas production) is also discussed.
- Alkaline electrolysis
- Co-electrolysis electrode materials
- Polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) electrolysis
- Solid oxide electrolysis