January 18, 2023

The University of Guam and PNNL Collaborate to Generate Clean Energy from the Sea

Scientists explore the potential of seawater to generate hydrogen fuel

Photograph of a beach near a road and solar panels

Converting seawater to hydrogen would enable the production of decarbonized fuels on isolated islands.

(Photo by John Limtiaco | University of Guam)

The University of Guam (UOG) and the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have begun work to evaluate the potential for converting seawater into hydrogen energy. This project is funded by DOE’s Office of Science as part of the Basic Energy Sciences – Reaching a New Energy Sciences Workforce (BES-RENEW) Program to increase participation of underrepresented groups in clean energy research.  

The project’s goal is to train faculty and students at UOG to perform fundamental research in understanding the complexity of electrode/liquid interfaces to control reaction pathways during hydrogen-producing seawater electrolysis. The project combines extensive PNNL expertise in electrochemistry, gas chromatography, and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy with the vision of UOG researchers to establish a diverse, equitable, and inclusive recruitment and retention program to build UOG and Guam’s future energy workforce. As part of its Land Grant charter, UOG is mandated to serve all peoples and islands of Micronesia.

The 3-year project includes a 10-week intensive research experience for UOG faculty and students at PNNL each summer with the goal of continuing this research program at UOG. The project will kick off in summer 2023, with two students and UOG principal investigator John Limtiaco slated to visit PNNL’s Richland, Washington campus. UOG anticipates increasing participation to four or five students in subsequent years through their recruitment and retention program.

“The diversity within the PNNL and UOG teams will strengthen the outcome of both projects as we adapt and learn from each other to gain valuable knowledge on the feasibility of harnessing hydrogen from Guam’s ocean waters and deploying ocean energy systems as additional sources of clean energy for the island,” said Fleur de Peralta, a PNNL senior advisor with the Risk and Environmental Assessment group within the Energy and Environment Directorate.

(Read the full University of Guam news release.)

Published: January 18, 2023