The quest for solutions to global climate change has led scientists to explore innovative ways to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. Among the myriad of challenges the world faces, finding cleaner, sustainable alternatives for hard-to-abate sectors like steel production, chemical manufacturing, aviation, and international shipping is paramount. These industries are on the cusp of a transformation, with green hydrogen—produced through the electrolysis of water using renewable energy sources—poised to play a pivotal role. Alkaline water electrolysis (AWE), a technology distinguished by its use of abundant materials like nickel (Ni) and iron (Fe) instead of rare noble metals, stands out as one of the most promising methods for large-scale green hydrogen production. Recent advancements have focused on enhancing AWE’s efficiency by minimizing the energy required while maximizing output, setting the stage for a sustainable energy revolution.

In a groundbreaking study led by Dr. Maximilian Demnitz, with the collaboration of Yuran Martins Lamas, Rodrigo Lira Garcia Barros, Anouk de Leeuw den Bouter, Prof. John van der Schaaf, and Dr. Matheus Theodorus de Groot at Eindhoven University of Technology, published in iScience, a novel approach to hydrogen production has been unveiled, marking a significant stride in sustainable energy research. By integrating iron into the electrolyte of alkaline water electrolysis systems, this team has not only showcased an innovative method to generate hydrogen but has also illuminated a path toward reducing our reliance on fossil fuels.

This inventive research not only promises to elevate the efficiency and viability of hydrogen production but also aligns with the global efforts to transition towards more sustainable energy solutions. The integration of iron into the electrolysis process serves as a catalyst, facilitating a more efficient and cost-effective method to produce hydrogen. This breakthrough is particularly impactful for sectors striving to shift from traditional fossil fuels to greener alternatives.

The study’s findings reveal that the presence of iron in the electrolyte significantly enhances the electrolysis process, making the production of hydrogen not only more efficient but also more viable for large-scale applications. This aligns with the global push towards renewable energy sources and the urgent need to find sustainable alternatives to fossil fuel consumption. “The inclusion of electrolyte iron acts as a catalyst, speeding up the hydrogen production process without the need for expensive and scarce materials or complicated catalyst design previously considered essential,” Dr. Demnitz explains, highlighting the transformative potential of their work. In summary, the work of Dr. Demnitz and his colleagues at Eindhoven University of Technology is a beacon of innovation in the field of sustainable energy. Their research in enhancing alkaline water electrolysis through electrolyte iron addition is not just a technical achievement; it is a step towards a cleaner, more sustainable future. Their findings hold the promise of accelerating the transition to green hydrogen, making it a cornerstone of our renewable energy landscape.


Demnitz, M., et al. “Effect of iron addition to the electrolyte on alkaline water electrolysis performance.” iScience, 27(1), 108695, 2023. DOI:


Thijs de Groot is an associate professor in the field of electrochemical process technology. He conducts research into the production of green hydrogen by means of water electrolysis, with a particular focus on alkaline and anion-exchange membrane electrolysis. His research focuses on increasing the productivity and flexibility of these electrolyzers, looking at improving cell design, the effects of bubbles and supersaturation, the transport of ions and gases and the use of advanced electrochemical techniques such as electrochemical impedance spectroscopy.

Thijs de Groot has worked in the electrochemical industry for over 15 years and therefore has a good understanding of the challenges involved in developing and scaling up electrochemical processes.

Maximilian Demnitz background lies within the field of inorganic and thermodynamic chemistry. For his postdoctoral research, he has expanded his research to electrochemistry.

“Improving the performance of electrolysers and understanding the science behind it is the key aspect to quickly grow a flourishing hydrogen economy.

To this cause my research focuses on two aspects:

1) Enhancing the diaphragm and cell assembly used in alkaline water electrolysis to show lower resistances, less gas crossover, and participate in the catalytic reaction of H2 and O2 production.

To that extend we modify diaphragms with (catalytic) coatings and test the catalyst coated diaphragms (CCD) within the electrolyser. To that extend we further improve the diaphragm-electrode assembly in the cell to show optimal performance and long-term stability.

2) Understanding and evaluating the role of dopants in the electrolyte on electrolyser performance. Here, especially Fe is of interest, since it enhances electrolyser performance significantly. Further, a focus is set on vanadium doped electrolyte, which has been shown to stabilize longer term performance of the electrodes.”