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Muhammad Alfarisy Akbar1, Rocky Alfanz1, Wahyuni Martiningsih1, Joddy Arya Laksmono2

Electrical Engineering Universitas Sultan Ageng Tirtayasa, 2Research Centre LIPI Kimia

AbstractHydrogen can be produced by electrolysis using

Hoffman Voltameter method, thats dissociate water

compound into the constituent elements such as hydrogen (H 2)
and Oxygen (O2) using DC power source. Electrolysis cell has
structure like electric capacitor that has electric material
between both of its electrode. Electrode that used in this
electrolysis process has tube shape like bullet. In this study,
DC power source had been made ocillated to form a square
wave by PWM method that evocated from Arduino Uno with
calibration at 1kHz - 16kHz frequency and pulse width setting
from 10% - 90%. Based from calibration result, hydrogen
production at pulse width 50% prefer more increase compared
with pulse width 70% and most hydrogen production at most
happen at 8 kHz frequency with pulse width 90% thats reach
14 mL.
Key WordsElektrolysis, hydrogen, PWM



66,67% of earth is consist by water (H 2O) its a

big potention to gain hydrogen because in the
water contained hydrogen. One of the way to gai
hydrogen from water is by dissociate the water become
its constituent elements such as Oxygen (O2) and
Hydrogen (H2). Hydrogen has predicted by countries
will be a fuel thats more environtmental frienddly and
more efficient because it has rate of combustion 75%
better than BBM [1]. One of the ways to dissociate water
into hydrogen is by electrolysis process. Electrolysis is a
chemical process thats change electrical energy into
chemical energy by dissociating an electrolyte into ion at
the electrode using electrical current.
Hydrogen can be produced Hoffman Voltameter
method. This method is effective to used because the
water thats dissociated into its constituent elements
such as Hydrogen and Oxygen directly separated.
Oxygen produced at anode, whereas hydrogen produced
at cathode. Both of electrode become electric current
input thats enter Hoffman Voltameter.
Decomposition energy in the water is relatively
high because water molecule has stable structure at room
temperature. Approximately, minimal voltage 1,23 V is
required to applied at a water molecule in laboratory
condition to separate Hydrogen and Oxygen. However,

rate of voltage far higher used in industrial electrolysis

cell, voltage excess called as overpotensial or
overvoltage from reaction process [2].
In this study, DC power source had been made
ocillated to form a square wave by PWM method that
evocated from Arduino Uno R3 with calibration at
certain frequency and pulse width setting from previous
study, hydrogen production has optimum point at
frequency 13 kHz with pulse width 90% using NaCl
with consentration 25% produce 1,2 mL H2 [3].
A. Pulse Width Modulation (PWM)
PWM generally is a way to manipulating signal width thats
expressed with pulse in a period, to get different mean voltage.
Some examples of PWM application are modulation data for
telecommunication, power or voltage control, voltage
regulator, audio effect and relay, also other applications that
this time is trying to be applied in the process of electrolysis.
PWM signal generally has constant basic amplitude and
frequency, but it has variant pulse width. Pulse width directly
proportional with pure signal amplitude that unmodulated. It
means, PWM signal has constant wave frequency but variant
duty cycle (between 0% and 100%) [4].

Picture 1. Pulse width modulation (PWM)

Duty cycle usually expressed in percentage. Example

at duty cycle 50%, it means pulse width Ton amount 50%
average voltage output is 50% from input voltage. By
counting duty cycle that given, will be acquired the output

Average Voltage=

T on
(T on+Toff )

Average voltage is average output voltage that controlled by

PWM signal. The voltage is voltage average of on duration
compared with summary of on duration and off duration for
maximum onput voltage.
B. PWM Generation Type
Analog PWM Generation
The most simple PWM signal generation is by comparing
sawthooth signal as carrier voltage with referency voltage
using op-amp circuit comparator.

Picture 2. Pulse width modulation (PWM)

Method of this analog comparator is comparing sawthooth

voltage wave with referency voltage like seen in the picture

Picture 3. Analog PWM circuit [4]

When referency voltage is higher that carrier voltage

(sawthooth), the output comparator will show high. But whe
referency voltage is less than carrier voltage, output
comparator will be show lo. By utilize comparators work
principle, to change duty cycle from output signal simply by
change the referency voltage.

Duty cycle=


1) Digital PWM generation

C. Water electrolysis
Hydrogen cant be mined as a fossil material, but it must be
produced. Hydrogen can be gained by several ways, one of it
is using electrolysis, thats dissociate water into its constituent
elements. There are three general category of technologies that
used to produce hydrogen, there are thermal process,
photolytic process, and electrolysis process [5].
Electrolysis cell is a cell that use electrical energy for
chemical reaction ongoing. This cell is the opposite of
galvanic cell (free energy from chemical reaction is
transformed into electrical energy). Electrolysis process is
used to dissociate a compound (molecule) into its constituent
elements, for example is water molecule become oxygen and
hydrogen assisted by electric potential through electrode and
electrolyte solution to accelerate reaction.
In electrolyte solution, ions are distribute the electric
current. At negative electrode (cathode) positive ion catch
electron (reduction reaction), but at the positive electrode
(anode), negative ion release electron (oxidation reaction). If
in the solution there is no ion, the solution cant distribute
electric current. [6].
Electrolyte compound is compound that if dissolve into
water will be ionized. There are two kind of electrolyte
compound, there are strong electrolyte compound, that has
strong distribution power such as KOH, NaOH, HI, H2SO4,
HNO3, and HCLO4. And weak electrolyte compound, that as
weak distribution power such as NH 4OH, Ni(OH)2, HCN,
H2CO3, dan H2S.
In this study, electrolyte that used is sulfuric acid. Sulfuric
acid (H2SO4) is a strong electrolyte compound. It can be used
as a catalyze to dissociate water in electrolysis process. This
below is redoks reaction from H2SO4.
H2SO4 2H+ + SO42Oxidation
: 2H+ + 2e- H2
: SO42- + 4H+ + 2e- SO2 + 2H2O
2H+ + 2e- + SO42- + 4H+ + 2e- H2 + SO2
+ 2H2O
H2SO4 H2 + SO2 + H2O
One of method that used in this study is Hoffman
Voltameter method. This method first used by Wilhelm von
Hofmann Agustus (1818-1892) for water electrolysis. At the
instrument that shown at the picture below, there are three tube
canals that filled by wter that connected each other. At the left
and right top there are valve that functionate to obstruct or
drain gas out from Hoffman Voltameter. At the left and right

below, there are two electrode that will drain electrical power
anter electrolysis process started, will show diferential volume
at cathode and anode this case show that theres gas that fill
the room in the tube.

Picture 4. Hoffman Voltameter

D. Equivalent electrolysis circuit

Electrolysis cell of water has structure that similar to
electric capacitor, schematically is shown at this picture below.

Picture 5. Schematic structure and capacitor structure electrically [2,7]

As seen as this scheme, electrolysis cell of water

specifically contains two plats parallel electrode that placed
with some space from each other. And the space is filled by
electrolyte. Isolation between the plats cant be avoided, even
though electrolyte generally intended to decrease minimum
electric resistor to do efficient electrolysis process. Equation
below is show correlation between conductance G and resistor
R from each electrical flow that given [7].



This study comprehend some block of tool design thet used
to do electrolysis process. In this study, we use oscillated DC
source in PMW sognal form as electricity power source, with
variable as frequency and signal width. PMW generation in
this study used Arduino Uno. Output pulse Arduino Uno then
connected to switching circuit with DC voltage source 15 Volt.
Electrolysis process occurs at electrolysis process reactor, in
this study use Hoffman Voltameter method. In this reactor is
required some supported elements such as electrode and
electrolyte solution.

Picture 6. Study flowchart

A. Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) Generation

PMW signal evocated by Arduino Uno R3. Pulse width and
frequency value can controlled used potentiometer 10 k and
output pin that used was pin 9. Voltage that required must
minimal at the potential reduction voltage thats 1,23 Volt, so
the voltage must be set at overvoltage over its potential
reduction voltage. Referency voltage that used as input to the
electrolysis reactor was 15 Volt by regulator LM317..
Output flow from Arduino Uno iss very small, therefore it
required additional circuit in order that output flow from
Arduino Uno can suffice for electrolysis process. Pin output 9
from Arduino is continued to an optocoupler and enter a
mosfet to continued as output that used at electrolysis process.
Voltage that used in this study was voltage from regulator


Volume=n V STP
= mass of matter (gr)
= electricity flow (A)
= time (detik)
ME = relative atomic mass divided by the oxidation state
= number of moles (mol)
Mr = relative molecular mass
VSTP = volume of gas in a state of STP (22,4 L)

Picture 7. Instrument of study scheme

B. Hydrogen production process

In electrolysis reactor that filled by 230 ml of electrolyte
solution contains aquadest (water) and predetermined
consentration catalyst then then closed the top valve to
inhibiting gas that formed out of the reactor. Plug at the
bottom of reactor to prevent leak electrolyte solution and
connecting the reactor to the PWM generator.

Conductivity affects the conduction of electricity flow in

the electrolysis reactor. Conductivity is a measure of how
strong a solution can conduct electricity, then to determine the
concentration of a solution can be done by measuring the
conductivity of the solution.

k =C


= conductivity, mho/cm
= conductance, mho
= electrode width, cm3
= distance between the electrodes, cm
Picture 8. Blokc diagram of study

The power source is used to power source from PLN net

that has been rectified to enter the PWM generator. The
voltage used for switching PWM is at 15 volts which is the
output of the regulator that used for the reaction of the
electrolysis reactor. PWM generator output wave has square
shape with a frequency scale and pulse width can be set, and
wave form, frequency and pulse width can be read or
calculated using an oscilloscope.
After set or determine the value of frequency and pulse
width, then measuring the voltage to be used for the reactor
and the reaction electric current flowing to the reactor as
shown in the chart above. After the reactor was treated gas
will be formed inside the reactor. The calculation of the
amount of gas that is formed by manual reading of reduction
in water volume at t = 0 seconds to t = 15 minutes to 1 hour.
The production of hydrogen can be calculated theoretically
using the following equation


ME i t


from equation (8) a conductance with value 1 mho can be

expressed as ability of liquids conductivity that has 1 cm 3
cross-sectional area, 1 Ampere electricity flow, and 1 Volt
voltage. If the electricity that can be deliver is bigger, it means
that its conductance is also bigger. If a resistor is flowed by
bigger electricity, its resistance will decrease. It means that
conductivity is the opposite of resistance, mho = 1/ohm [8].
A. Electrode and Electrolyte Test
Electrode test
Determination of electrode and electrolyte greatly influence
the electrolysis process occurring in the reactor. The
effectiveness of electrodes depends on the type of materials
and shape used. There are three kinds of electrode materials
tested, there are carbon (C) , Stainless Steel 304 (SS 304), and
Copper (Cu). Electrodes shape under test is a bullet-shaped
electrodes with size of 7 cm at cathode and anode 5 cm, and
each has diameter of 4 mm. Here are the results of the test at
three electrodes used H2SO4 0.25% - 1% with DC power
source before use PWM to get the parameters of electrodes to
be used.

B. Reaction Process
Based at equation (9) water dissociation reaction shows that
the ratio between the hydrogen and oxygen that is 2: 1, but in
this test the result does not form a comparison like that. This is
due to formation such gas ratio by using H2SO4 require
higher concentrations, unlike using NaOH or KOH that can
approach a ratio of 2: 1 using only 1% concentration.

2 H 2 O 2 H 2+O2
Picture 9. The graphic of electrode test results by using H2SO4 as the
electrolyte solution

SS 304 has been determined as the electrodes used in this

study with consideration that 304 SS is stronger than the
carbon rod and SS 304 included in the inert metal, unlike
copper electrode which is a non-inert metal that easily
corroded and take part in the reaction with the electrolyte
2) Electrolyte test
In this test, there are four catalysts tested object, there are
sodium hydroxide (NaOH), sodium chloride (NaCl), sulfuric
acid (H2SO4), and potassium hydroxide (KOH) with a certain
concentration. The test of four catalysts due to the influence of
alkali catalysts, acid, and salt in the electrolysis process.
NaOH and KOH included in the class of alkali catalysts and
H2SO4 as acid catalysts while the NaCl as salt catalyst. Here
are the test results of catalyst determination by using SS 304
rod at a concentration of 0:25% - 1%.
The catalyst test for electrolyte test result show that using
H2SO4 as catalyst can produce more hydrogen than using the
other, because H2SO4 is a strong electrolyte. At the same
concentration, alkali catalyst such as NaOH and KOH still less
than H2SO4, while NaCl cant react at this low concentration,
so it takes concentration more than 1%.

Tabel 1. Comparison of the formation of hydrogen with oxygen as results of






1,6 : 1
2,7 : 1
2,6 : 1
2,5 : 1


8,2 : 1
7,5 : 1
5,6 : 1
6,5 : 1

3,0 : 1
3,0 : 1
2,6 : 1
2,5 : 1

In this process of electrolysis of an electrolyte conductivity

affects the conduction of electricity flow in the electrolysis
reactor. Here is a table of measurement conductivity result at
1% H2SO4 solution as electrolyte that used in this study.
Tabel 2. Konduktivitas larutan elektrolit H2SO4

Pengukuran 1

Pengukuran 2

So, SS 304 is used as a cathode electrode with a length

of 7 cm and 5 cm anode, and each has diameter of 4 mm
Jadi, SS 304 digunakan sebagai elektroda dengan panjang
katoda 7 cm dan anoda 5 cm dengan diameter masing-masing
4 mm because these electrodes are inert electrodes and have a
fairly good level of strength and resistance to corrosion. And
using H2SO4 as electrolyte with 1% concentration or 4.31 gr in
230 ml H2O that used as electrolyte element with H2O.

24,3o C
94,2 mS/cm

24,4 o C
94,9 mS/cm

Pengukuran 3

Picture 10. The catalyst test results using SS 304


93,4 mS /cm

24,3 C

This shows that the conductivity of the electrolyte is greater

than the conductivity of pure water which is only 1.3 S / cm.
Then the conductivity of the electrolyte causes electricity flow
that quite high due to the average of conductivity has reached
94.2 mS / cm.
During the reaction process also occurs acid buildup. This
acid buildup occurs due to the oxidation process that occurs at
the anode so that the residual acid that did not participate
oxidized has buildup at anode. This buildup occurs merely the
tip of the anode. This is the reason of making the electrodes
does not exceed the bridge so that its size is shorter than the

Picture 12. Shape of PWM output wave

Picture 11. Electrodes Dimension

During the electrolysis process, negative ions flow into the

anode to be oxidized, at the oxidation process, anode is
sustaining erosion, and it's resulting a changes in the anode
electrode rod diameter, it's reduced as shown in the table
Table 3. Changes in trunk diameter electrodes before and after the study

Top diameter
Top Height
Plug thickness
Bottom diameter
Bottom height
Total height



From the table above can be seen depreciation of the anode

electrode rod diameter from 39 mm to 31 mm. depreciation
diameter of 8 mm in this case due to the electrode undergoes
oxidation during the electrolysis process in study. But this
proves that the SS 304 is an inert electrode as there was no
coating or thickening of the cathode rod.
C. PWM Wave Shape
PWM waveform is set after determining the frequency and
pulse width that will be tested in the electrolysis process.
Readings of PWM waveforms using an oscilloscope. The
main components to generate PWM waveform generation
oscillation is using Arduino Uno R3 and switching using a
mosfet. Value readout on the oscilloscope is done manually by
reading the scale on the screen and setting scale on the
oscilloscope. Here is a PWM output waveform at a frequency
of 1 kHz and a pulse width of 50%.

D. Pengukuran tegangan dengan perubahan lebar

The value of the Arduino Uno R3 output reference voltage
is 5 volts. the output signal was square wave which then
entered into a switching voltage regulator circuit of 15 volts.
Testing is done with the pulse width changes output. Here are
the results of voltage measurement with pulse width changes
at a frequency of 1 kHz.
Table 4. Voltage measurement with pulse width changes










There is a voltage difference between the output voltage

before entering the reactor Hoffman voltameter with after
entering the reactor Hoffman voltameter. This is due to several
factors. The most influential is the distance between the two
electrodes that are connected by an electrolyte. Electrolytes
affect the amount of electricity that can flow in the reactor so
that the effect on the amount of the voltage between the two
electrodes. This causes the voltage difference before and after
the entry into Hoffman voltameter.
E. Hydrogen Production
1) Production of hydrogen with a change in
The hydrogen produced in the electrolysis process is
calculated at the time t = 0 seconds to process t = 3600
seconds or as long as 1 hour. The reading of the amount of
hydrogen that formed is by watching the initial scale value at
the time t = 0 seconds until the last impairment scale at t =
3600 seconds on the cathode which produces hydrogen. The
regulator input voltage of 15 volt, using distilled water with
sulfuric acid electrolyte concentration of 1% as much as 230
ml and electrodes SS 304. Below is the result of water
electrolysis by adjusting the duty cycle of 10%, 30%, 50%,
70%, and 90% the magnitude of the variation frequency of
1kHz, 4 kHz, 8kHz, 10kHz, 12kHz, and 16 kHz.
From the study of hydrogen production at a pulse width of
10% with a change of the frequency value is obtained voltage
between the two electrodes when a frequency of 1 kHz is at

2.5 volts there is a voltage difference before entry to the

reactor is equal to 1.3 volts, while the electricity is flowing of
4.6 mA.
Then by the equation, it obtained the number of volumes of
hydrogen that formed theoretically is as below.

frequency and the volume of hydrogen at a pulse width of

In the earlier studies of hydrogen production using 25%
NaCl electrolyte optimum at a frequency of 13 kHz with a
pulse width of 50% produces hydrogen volume of 2.4 ml for
one hour. electricity flow is 8.94 mA and power 73.84 mW
[3]. Whereas in this study using 1% H2SO4 electrolyte
4,6 103 Amp 3600 detik
resulting volume reached 11.4 ml at a frequency of 8kHz with
=1,716 104 gra pulse width of 50% and a electricity that flowed for
96500 coulomb
23,35mA with a power of 154.11 mW.
Response of volume production at 90% duty cycle is almost
the same as on a duty cycle of 70% is to establish a fluctuating
1,716 104 gr
=8,580 10
response. But there is a point of peak production at point 8
kHz which amounted to 14.0 ml with the use of a power of
410.8 mW and the lowest point at a frequency of 12 kHz
which amounted of 11.7 ml.
Volume=8,580 10 mol 22,4 L=1,92 x 10 L



picture 13. correlation between frequency change and of hydrogen production


From the study shows that the response of hydrogen

production was different by any change in frequency. On
testing using a pulse width of 10% seen in the graphic that the
greater the frequency, the amount of hydrogen production will
decrease. Peak production of hydrogen at a pulse width of
10%, is at 1 kHz which reached about 1.8 ml during one-hour
at 30% duty cycle, hydrogen production response form is
different from the production response at 10% duty cycle. At a
duty cycle of 30% by volume of hydrogen production has
increased production at the point of peak frequency of 8 kHz
to 12 kHz which is about 6.3 ml for one hour. But after that
the production of hydrogen decreased in the next frequency.
In the pulse width 50% hydrogen production response form
is different from the previous production response. Production
increased from 10 ml at a frequency of 1 kHz - 4 kHz up to
11.4 ml at a frequency of 8 kHz, but after that the hydrogen
production continued to decrease up to 9.8 ml at frequency of
16 kHz. Here is a graphical form of correlation between

2) Production of hydrogen with a duty cycle

Changes in the amount of pulse width given in the electrolysis
process will increase the voltage and large electricity flow in
the system. The amount of the electricity flow effect on the
increased volume of hydrogen. Here is a graphic of the effect
of changes in duty cycle towards the production volume of

Picture 14. Correlation between duty cycle and hydrogen production volume

The graphic above is a graph of the correlation between

pulse width changes and the production volume of hydrogen at
a frequency of 1kHz, 4kHz, 8kHz, 10kHz, 12kHz, and 16
kHz. Based on the test results shows that the pulse width
changes affect the volume of production. The greater the pulse
width of the hydrogen production volume will increase.
In the pulse width of 50% of hydrogen production is likely
to increase as compared to the pulse width of 70% are tends to
decrease whereas power usage pulse width on average 70%
greater than the pulse width of 50%. This shows that the
power usage pulse width with 50% lower power usage pulse
width of 70% in which the production of the pulse width 50%
more than in the pulse width of 70%.
Hydrogen production at a frequency of 8 kHz with a pulse
width of 50%, reaching 11.4 ml, more than in the same pulse
width. The highest peak hydrogen production occurs at a
frequency of 8kHz with a pulse width of 90%, reaching the
volume of 14 ml of hydrogen.

3) Comparison of the DC source

Generally testing electrolysis using pure DC source, but in
this study were tested using a pulse source in the electrolysis
reactor. On the test results indicate the effect of the pulse
source. The use of conventional DC source can be as shown in
the figure below.

Pictrure15. Comparison between the DC source to source pulses at a width of


The test above conducted at 20 mA electricity source and

the pulse width of 50%. From the test results showed that the
use of pulse sources can improve the results of hydrogen
production to nearly double than simply using any DC source.
Test using a DC source generates hydrogen production of 3.7
ml while on testing using a frequency 16 kHz with a pulse
width of 50% of hydrogen production can be increased to 6.7
From the test above, results also showed that the greater
frequency used will increase the production of hydrogen, it is
influenced by the rate of release of hydrogen into the air of the
electrode as shown in the figure below.



Picture 16. (a) The release of hydrogen with DC source (b) The release of
hydrogen with pulse source

The release of hydrogen gas at a DC source is slowly due to

release hydrogen gas into empty space must wait until the
hydrogen bubbles are large, while using the pulse source, the

bubbles that formed very small and almost invisible to the eye
thus speeding the bubbles rise to the empty space. It is
affecting hydrogen production increases faster than the DC
From the research that has been done about the effect of
pulse width modulation (PWM) generation in the process of
water electrolysis into hydrogen obtained the following
1) Generation of PWM can be used as a regulator of the
production of hydrogen in the electrolysis process
without adding to the concentration of electrolytes.
2) The formation of hydrogen gas at a pulse width of
50% tends to be increased compared to the pulse
width of 70%.
3) Establishment of the highest hydrogen gas occurs at a
frequency of 8 kHz with a pulse width of 90%.
4) The amount of electricity flow in the reactor is also
influenced by the type and concentration of the
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