I have mentioned the research I did previously in relation to producing hydrogen from water and I thought that I would post an overview of what I was doing and the outcome. I will try to do it without a lot of boring detail and just hit the high points. I still see hydrogen from water as being the inevitable fuel of the future and I think that a lot of confusion exists in the way that people understand the potential of hydrogen fuel.
My focus has been in making the process of producing H2 from water more efficient. There are a lot of things I would like to explore further but the core of it has been 1) resistance and 2) power.
An electrolysis cell is only as resistive as its individual components. Each of these components can be designed to yield whatever level of resistance you want. This is important for a lot of reasons and since the quantity of H2 produced is based solely on the amount of current that flows the lower the resistance the more H2 you produce from a given power source.
If you have a series of cells with very low resistance you can pretty much eliminate the resistance of that series of cells or bring it down to the resistance level of the wire in the circuit. At this point you short circuit the power source of course but the point is that it isn't cell resistance which is limiting H2 production from a given power source.
The heat that is produced in a cell during conduction is also more related to resistance than it is "heat of reaction". I say this because I have found that the heat which develops in a cell during conduction is directly related to the conductivity of the cell. The more resistive the cell the hotter it gets and conversely the more conductive it is the less heat that is created. This is also observable in AC powered cells wherein the heating effect is more readily observable. So the conclusion is that conduction in a liquid is very much like conduction in a metal in relation to resistance.
The other factor that affects or limits the number of cells that you can put in series and therefore the amount of H2 produced is capacitance. Each cell acts like a capacitor in that each has to build up and maintain a specific potential difference in relation to the ions in the cell in order for an electric current to flow through the cell. As long as this minimum voltage is maintained current will flow. This is very different from the commonly accepted picture of the limits of electrolysis cells and is often not taken into consideration properly when figuring the efficiency of electrolysis cells.
At this point I started looking at water with an electrolyte as kind of ready made electrolysis generator that just needed the right situation in order to allow electricity to flow. For example, in a metal conductor there are many free electrons which just need direction in order to flow from one place to another and a potential difference has to be created in order to have electrons flow from a place of higher concentration to one of lower concentration. The metal is however electrically neutral overall.
Water too is electrically neutral. There are no free electrons and water molecules (except for a tiny percentage of ions) are very stable so water is an insulator or dielectric.
After an electrolyte is added however (example SO2 + 2H2O ---> 4H+ + SO4-- ignoring one intermediate step) the situation changes. The solution is still electrically neutral overall but the reason for this neutrality is totally different. In pure water there are no charges but in this solution there are an equal number of positively and negatively charged particles so the solution is neutral. However it is electrically charged at the same time.
An example could be the Earth. If you look at the planet as a capacitor with the ionosphere serving as one plate and the ground as the other plate the air is the dielectric between. The ground has an electron charge and the ionosphere an ion charge. In the air dielectric there is also water and water with various impurities such as sulfur which create ions in that water (and acid rain).
Electrical reactions are possible within the dielectric/acidulated water between the two plates of the Earth capacitor which are independent of the charge on either "plate". One way to look at this would be that the H+ ions within the acidulated water dielectric are attracted to and follow the Earth's magnetic lines of force and follow them up and out of the air dielectric (either as ions or after picking up free electrons which are constantly transferring in the air). This exiting of H2 is called the Polar Wind of course. In response negatively charged particles are left in the water in the atmosphere and these charges build up over time and eventually discharge to ground as lightning. I am just using this as an example not saying this is exactly what happens.
This would imply though that a similar situation could be set up within an electrolysis cell so that all you would have to do is supply an external potential difference (which could be static) and then set up conditions within the cell so that an electric current could flow and hydrogen be produced without the current being necessary through the power source which supplies the potential difference. This would really change the amount of H2 produced per supplied charge and I have some very promising physical evidence in respect to this being possible.
Another avenue of research was to look at using AC electricity as the charge source. I have done a little work in respect to setting up experimental cells and wiring to allow a DC current to flow through the cells while using an AC power source and need to do more. On paper though it looks like the necessary route to follow.
Remember that the goal is to produce as much H2 as possible per given charge so it will be necessary to have a large current flowing through our series of cells while using the least possible amount of energy from the supplied charge. This is where the ability to manipulate the cell resistance really comes in handy.
Maybe the easiest way to illustrate this is to show you a hypothetical circuit. I don't know that this will work as described but it illustrates the concept. A tank circuit consists of induction and capacitive elements. Inductors store and release supplied charge so without any load they can return to the power source nearly all of the energy they take while charging. A capacitor also stores and returns the supplied charge. If the two are in a circuit and in resonance with each other a large current can flow within the tank circuit but the circuit returns all of the power it takes. The only thing that limits the amount of power returned is the resistance of the components of the tank circuit.
From that beginning you can see the potential for having many inductors wired in parallel to each other. Each would be charged with the total voltage of the power source and then return that power so no energy would be used. If you created the situation where you had two sets of such inductors, each set 180 degrees out of phase with each other one set would be charging while the other discharged and they would essentially be charging each other. Of course there are always some losses and you still need the power source to keep the cycle going but hopefully you see what I mean.
I think that electrolysis cells can take advantage of a setup like this because, as I said earlier, the only two things we have to be concerned with them are resistance and capacitance. We can manipulate resistance and so the situation can be created where the series of cells in such a tank circuit would have no more electrical resistance than the wire in the circuit.
With that factor dealt with all we are left with is the capacitance of the cells. In an RC circuit however I think that this capacitance could be dealt with as a component of the entire capacitance of the tank. In that case the only challenge is to create a situation where DC current can flow through the electrolysis cells while not affecting the AC current in the tank. If that can be achieved then it pretty much changes everything in relation to how much H2 can be produced from a given power source and that should be obvious.
So that is what I have done to date in relation to H2 fuel. I can go into a lot more detail on specific points but the next step is really to just build an experimental model and see what happens.