Water electrolysis for large scale hydrogen production is unattractive because of its high electricity consumption. But hydrogen produced by electrolysis of methanol as proposed by Prof. Shen, from Advanced Energy Materials Research laboratory of Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, China uses only 1/3 electricity consumption of water electrolysis.
The principle of the electrolysis of methanol is as follows. Methanol is oxidized via dehydration at the anode, the resulting H+ ions diffusing through a proton exchange membrane (PEM) to the cathode chamber where they are reduced to hydrogen gas.
A promising advantage is that the standard potential is only 0.02 V vs NHE for methanol oxidation compared to 1.23 V for water electrolysis. Additionally the hydrogen generated comes from the methanol as well as from the water, the overall reaction being CH3OH + H2O = 3H2 + CO2.
This process offers potential for lower distributed hydrogen production costs and reducing the infrastructure required for hydrogen distribution. It is too early to assign any costs to the process. Obviously, the cost of the methanol would deduct from other savings.
Source: Fuel Cell Works