Published: March 23, 2021


Water electrolysis refers to the electrochemical decomposition of water into oxygen and hydrogen. This process is fundamental for a wide range of environmental control and life support systems, such as on the international space station. This also has utility in propulsion technologies, portable high-density power sources, or energy conversion and storage mechanisms in space. In low-gravity environments, oxygen and hydrogen bubbles formed from electrolysis do not float to the surface, but rather stay affixed to the electrode, greatly reducing efficiency and increasing mass and power requirements. 


Researchers in the lab of Aerospace Engineering Professor Dr. Hanspeter Schaub, led by second year aerospace PhD Álvaro Romero-Calvo, have effectively utilized magnetic buoyancy to enhance electrolysis, boiling, and phase separation technologies in space. The magnetic force induces the early detachment of gas bubbles from the nucleation surfaces, increasing the effective surface area and separating the phases. This makes heavy and powered ancillary equipment unnecessary, providing a light, unpowered means of inducing phase separation and greatly simplifying the architecture of existing systems.

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  • Increased cell efficiency
  • Elimination of heavy ancillary components
  • Unpowered & lightweight
  • Utility in Terrestrial and low-gravity environments


  • Life-Support Systems 
  • Propulsion Technologies
  • High-Density Power Sources

What's Next?

This technology is looking for industry partners and funding.


Nicole Forsberg: