Researchers Discover More Efficient Way to Split Water, Produce Hydrogen
Inexpensive, Nontoxic Catalyst Could Help Reduce Global Reliance on Fossil Fuels
A team of researchers from the University of Houston and the California Institute of Technology has reported a more efficient catalyst, using molybdenum sulfoselenide particles on three-dimensional porous nickel diselenide foam to increase catalytic activity.
The foam, made using commercially available nickel foam, significantly improved catalytic performance because it exposed more edge sites, where catalytic activity is higher than it is on flat surfaces, said Zhifeng Ren, MD Anderson Professor of physics at UH.
Ren is lead author of a paper in Nature Communications describing the discovery. Other researchers involved include Haiqing Zhou, Fang Yu, Jingying Sun, Ran He, Shuo Chen, Jiming Bao and Zhuan Zhu, all of UH, and Yufeng Huang, Robert J. Nielsen and William A. Goddard III of the California Institute of Technology.
Researchers report novel hybrid catalyst to split water
Most systems to split water into its components - hydrogen and oxygen - require two catalysts, one to spur a reaction to separate the hydrogen and a second to produce oxygen. The new catalyst, made of iron and dinickel phosphides on commercially available nickel foam, performs both functions.
Researchers said it has the potential to dramatically lower the amount of energy required to produce hydrogen from water while generating a high current density, a measure of hydrogen production. Lower energy requirements means the hydrogen could be produced at a lower cost.
“It puts us closer to commercialization,” said Zhifeng Ren, M.D. Anderson Chair Professor of physics at UH and lead author of a paper describing the new catalyst published Friday in Nature Communications.
Hydrogen is considered a desirable source of clean energy, in the form of fuel cells to power electric motors or burned in internal combustion engines, along with a number of industrial uses. Because it can be compressed or converted to liquid, it is more easily stored than some other forms of energy, said Ren, who also is a researcher at the Texas Center for Superconductivity at UH.