Nav: Home

Taking a closer look at 'electrifying' chemistry

June 11, 2018

The future of chemistry is 'electrifying'. With the increasing availability of electrical energy from renewable sources, it will be possible in the future to drive many chemical processes using an electric current. This will facilitate the use of sustainable methods to manufacture products or fuels, replacing current processes which are based on fossil fuels. However, exactly how these electrocatalysts work is not yet fully understood. This could now all change with a new method developed by researchers from Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) and the Helmholtz Institute Erlangen-Nürnberg for Renewable Energy (HI ERN).

Reactions driven by electricity almost always use so-called electrocatalysts, which are usually highly complex materials made up of a large number of chemical components. The role of electrocatalysts is to ensure the reaction takes place while keeping any losses to a minimum, thus wasting as little as possible of the renewable energy, which is complex to produce. This method can be used to produce important energy carriers such as hydrogen directly from water and to convert climate gases such as carbon dioxide into valuable basic chemicals. In most cases, the precise chemical processes in electrocatalysts are not very well understood. Improving the understanding of this electrically driven chemistry is essential, on the one hand to manufacture catalysts for new processes in a targeted manner and, on the other, to improve the often extremely limited life of the catalysts themselves.

As reported in the journal Nature Materials, researchers from FAU, HI-ERN and their international partner groups have now developed a new method that will enable electrocatalytic reactions to be studied in much more detail in future. In conjunction with Prof. Dr. Karl Mayrhofer at HI-ERN, the working group led by Prof. Dr. Jörg Libuda, Professor of Physical Chemistry at FAU, demonstrated that it is possible to construct a complex electrocatalyst with atomic precision and to use it to study the precise mechanism of electrocatalytic reactions. The catalysts are assembled in so-called ultra-high vacuum conditions, in the complete absence of all contaminants that often influence results. This breakthrough will enable scientists to study a large number of other catalysts using the same strategy, thus improving our understanding of 'electrified' chemistry in the future.
-end-
The researchers' findings have recently been published in the renowned journal Nature Materials

University of Erlangen-Nuremberg

Related Renewable Energy Articles:

Cold conversion of food waste into renewable energy and fertilizer
Researchers from Concordia's Department of Building, Civil and Environmental Engineering (BCEE) in collaboration with Bio-Terre Systems Inc. are taking the fight against global warming to colder climes.
Researchers offer novel method for calculating the benefits of renewable energy
Researchers from the Higher School of Economics (HSE) have developed a novel system for assessing the potential of renewable energy resources.
Renewable energy needed to drive uptake of electric vehicles
Plugging into renewable energy sources outweighs the cost and short driving ranges for consumers intending to buy electric vehicles, according to a new study.
Renewable energy has robust future in much of Africa
Africa's energy demand is expected to triple by 2030. A new Berkeley study shows that the continent's energy needs can be met with renewable power from wind and solar in a way that reduces reliance on undependable hydroelectric power and imported fossil fuels, while at the same time saving money and providing jobs.
100 percent renewable energy sources require overcapacity
Germany decided to go nuclear-free by 2022. A CO2-emission-free electricity supply system based on intermittent sources, such as wind and solar -- or photovoltaic (PV) -- power could replace nuclear power.
Biofuel matchmaker: Finding the perfect algae for renewable energy
A new streamlined process could quickly pare down heaps of algae species into just a few that hold the most promise for making biofuel.
UChicago startup turns renewable energy into natural gas
One of the biggest challenges to wider adoption of wind and solar power is how to store the excess energy they often produce.
Improved water splitting advances renewable energy conversion
Washington State University researchers have found a way to more efficiently create hydrogen from water -- an important key in making renewable energy production and storage viable.
Research targets conflict over wind farming and renewable energy in Korea
Griffith University is undertaking a major international project to help address community conflict and disruption over wind farms and their implementation in Korea.
Move over, solar: The next big renewable energy source could be at our feet
Flooring can be made from any number of sustainable materials, making it, generally, an eco-friendly feature in homes and businesses alike.

Related Renewable Energy Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Bias And Perception
How does bias distort our thinking, our listening, our beliefs... and even our search results? How can we fight it? This hour, TED speakers explore ideas about the unconscious biases that shape us. Guests include writer and broadcaster Yassmin Abdel-Magied, climatologist J. Marshall Shepherd, journalist Andreas Ekström, and experimental psychologist Tony Salvador.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#513 Dinosaur Tails
This week: dinosaurs! We're discussing dinosaur tails, bipedalism, paleontology public outreach, dinosaur MOOCs, and other neat dinosaur related things with Dr. Scott Persons from the University of Alberta, who is also the author of the book "Dinosaurs of the Alberta Badlands".