Switching from fossil fuels to clean energy using previously inefficient catalysts can help achieve better hydrogen production

Researchers at Curtin University recently identified a new, less expensive and more efficient electrocatalyst for producing green hydrogen from water that could, in the future, open new doors for greater production of clean energy.

According to a report from Phys.org, scientists typically use “precious metal catalysts” like platinum to speed up the reaction of breaking water into oxygen and hydrogen.

Today, this study has shown that adding cobalt and nickel to cheaper and once inefficient catalysts improves their performance, reducing the energy required to separate water and increasing hydrogen production. .

The study’s lead researcher Dr Guohua Jia from Curtain’s School of Molecular and Life Sciences said the finding could have far-reaching innuendo for sustainable green fuel production in the future.

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(Photo: Luca Silvioli on Wikimedia Commons)
Catalyst nanoparticles

2D iron-sulfur nanocrystals

Describing their research, Dr Jia said it had been vital to “take two-dimensional iron-sulfur nanocrystals”, which generally do not function as catalysts for the electrical response that hydrogen obtains from water. , and add small amounts of nickel and cobalt. ions.

The lead researcher added that when they did this, it totally transformed the malfunctioning iron-sulfur into a viable, if not effective, catalyst.

The use of these more abundant materials is less expensive and more efficient compared to the current reference material known as ruthenium oxide, which is made from the element ruthenium, and it is expensive.

Jhia also explained that their findings not only broaden the “range of possible particle combinations”, but also introduce an efficient new catalyst that may be useful in other applications.

Ruthenium oxide

According to Corrosionpedia, the most typical type of ruthenium oxide, ruthenium (IV) oxide is an inorganic compound in solid crystalline form, black in color. This oxide is commonly used as an oxygen catalyst in the generation of chlorine and chlorine oxides.

Ruthenium oxide has two types. These include the aforementioned ruthenium (IV) oxide with the chemical formula RuO2 and ruthenium (VIII) oxide with the chemical formula RuO4.

Essentially, materials based on ruthenium oxide are used in the manufacture of fuel cell catalysts. In addition, they are also considered to be better than carbonless materials, as ruthenium oxide offers higher corrosion stability.

In addition, the powers of ruthenium oxide show a higher corrosion capacity than carbon. The full version of Ru2Nh2O at the RuO2 step by post-reduction in a hydrogen atmosphere improves conductivity with corrosion stability.

The shift from fossil fuels to clean energy

This study, published in Nano Energy, also opens new avenues for future studies in the energy field, putting Australia in particular at the forefront of research and application of renewable and clean energy.

Jia said the next steps would be to expand and test his team’s work on a large scale to determine if it is commercially viable.

The lead researchers went on to explain that only 21% of energy is generated from renewables in the domestic energy market, making it clear that more initiatives are needed from Australia. to switch from fossil fuels to clean energy.

However, such a transition is only plausible when knowledge from the research field is translated into concrete solutions and applications in the energy field.

This particular research was a collaboration of scientists Dr Jia and Dr Franca Jones of the Curtin School of Molecular and Life Sciences; and Zongping Shao, professor at the WA School of Mines: Minerals, Energy and Chemical Engineering.

Related information on ruthenium can be found on the Thoisoi2 YouTube video below:

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