Low-voltage bipolar hydrogen production from aldehydes and water

Iowa State University researchers have developed an electrochemical system for the production of hydrogen utilizing alkaline solution and a copper-based catalyst. Aldehyde’s are used as they are more thermodynamically favorable for electrolysis than water and have the additional benefit of producing useful carboxylic acids. Both these factors contribute to systems ability to be run with low voltage and with limited ability for oxygen production, improving safety.

ISURF 5390 is an electrolytic fuel cell that utilizes furfural, a biomass-derived aldehyde, as the hydrogen source and an alkaline solution as the electrolyte. This system produces hydrogen from both the anode and cathode, effectively doubling production in comparison to traditional water electrolysis. The combination of utilizing more energy efficient reagents (aldehyde) and producing hydrogen at both electrodes gives this system a magnitude lower in cost of producing hydrogen gas when compared to water electrolysis.


  • Bipolar H2 Production
  • Pure H2 Gas stream
  • Renewable fuel source


Energy production, chemical production

Patent(s) applied for


Development Stage:



Contact Information

TTO Home Page: http://isurftech.technologypublisher.com

Name: Jack Hartwigsen

Title: Technology Marketing Manager

Department: Iowa State Research Foundation

Email: jackh1@iastate.edu

Phone: 515-294-4740