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Miniaturized hydrogen generator


Electrolytic hydrogen production (electrolysis of water) produces high purity hydrogen in a direct way without the need for additional clean up. Furthermore, since the production of hydrogen is directly related to the current that is passed through an electrolysis cell, the supply of hydrogen from such a cell can be matched with the demand. Electrolysis cells can be scaled from very large systems with mega Watt peak powers, used to store the surplus energy that is generated from wind and solar sources [1], to microsystems with micro Watts power consumption [2].

The aim of this assignment is to study how and if a miniaturized hydrogen generator can be used to produce a flow on demand of high purity hydrogen. This hydrogen flow will be coupled into a miniaturized gas chromatograph and used as the carrier gas. The requirements for such a system are that the gas should be water-free, power consumption should be low, and water for the electrolysis should preferably be obtained from the environment (for example, condensed water).


The main goal of this assignment is to study the feasibility of a miniaturized water electrolysis system as the hydrogen source for a miniaturized (portable) GC. This assignment consists of the following tasks:

  1.  Make a simple analytical model to calculate the required power and water input, the attainable hydrogen pressure and the system dimensions which are needed to get a flow of dry hydrogen of 30 mL/min.
  2. Perform experiments on an existing (larger) electrolytic hydrogen generation system, to verify and complete the model. Measure the water content of produced gas and, if needed, perform tests on drying of the hydrogen flow. 
  3. Based on the model, make a design of a miniaturized electrolyzer, including a drying element, and make choices for the materials that should be used for optimal performance. Build the system (in collaboration with technical support staff). 
  4. Perform experiments on the system that was designed and build, and determine the specifications of the system in terms of hydrogen flow and purity.



[2] C. Neagu, H. Jansen, H. Gardeniers, et al. The electrolysis of water: an actuation principle for MEMS with a big opportunity, Mechatronics 10 (2000)pp. 571-581;


Contact information: Han Gardeniers; Email: