In view of the shortage of fossil energy resources and the present climate change caused by man-made carbon dioxide emissions, the energy industry faces a radical change already. In the area of new «green» energy technologies, hydrogen will play a leading role as secondary energy carrier if a low-cost and climate-neutral hydrogen production from renewable energy sources can be achieved. The alkaline electrolysis of water has the potential to fulfill both requirements. However, in the last decades only marginal efforts have been made to enhance the efficiency and the power density of the electrolysis process.
In this regard, new electrode materials and electrode designs for the alkaline electrolysis of water are developed at Fraunhofer IFAM Dresden aiming at enhancing the efficiency of the electrolysis process (reduction of the overpotential) and at improving the long term-stability of the electrode materials. Furthermore, an increase of the current density from 300 mA/cm2 at present up to 600-800 mA/cm2 is envisaged. From the materials point of view, glass-like metal alloys are used because the electrochemical properties of these materials can be adjusted by alloy composition and surface-near nanocrystalline metallic phases which are electrocatalytically highly active.