Nav: Home

High reaction rates even without precious metals

June 19, 2019

Non-precious metal nanoparticles could one day replace expensive catalysts for hydrogen production. However, it is often difficult to determine what reaction rates they can achieve, especially when it comes to oxide particles. This is because the particles must be attached to the electrode using a binder and conductive additives, which distort the results. With the aid of electrochemical analyses of individual particles, researchers have now succeeded in determining the activity and substance conversion of nanocatalysts made from cobalt iron oxide - without any binders. The team led by Professor Kristina Tschulik from Ruhr-Universität Bochum reports together with colleagues from the University of Duisburg-Essen and from Dresden in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, published online on 30 May 2019.

"The development of non-precious metal catalysts plays a decisive role in realising the energy transition as only they are cheap and available in sufficient quantities to produce the required amounts of renewable fuels," says Kristina Tschulik, a member of the Cluster of Excellence Ruhr Explores Solvation (Resolv). Hydrogen, a promising energy source, can thus be acquired by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen. The limiting factor here has so far been the partial reaction in which oxygen is produced.

Better than reaction rates currently achieved in industry

How efficiently cobalt iron oxide particles are able to catalyse oxygen generation was investigated by the researchers in the current work. They analysed many individual particles one after the other. The chemists allowed a particle to catalyse oxygen generation on the surface of the electrode and measured the current flow from this, which provides information about the reaction rate. "We have measured current densities of several kiloamps per square metre," says Tschulik. "This is above the reaction rates currently possible in industry."

The team showed that, for particles smaller than ten nanometres, the current flow is dependent on the particle size - the smaller the catalyst particle, the smaller the current. The current is also limited by the oxygen that is produced in the reaction and that diffuses away from the particle surface.

Extremely stable despite high stress

Following the catalysis experiments, the chemists observed the catalyst particles under the transmission electron microscope. "Despite the high reaction rates, i.e. although the particles had created so much oxygen, they hardly changed," summarises Tschulik. "The stability under extreme conditions is exceptional."

The analysis approach used in the current work can also be transferred to other electrocatalysts. "It is essential to find out more about the activities of nanocatalysts in order to be able to efficiently further develop non-precious metal catalysts for the renewable energy technologies of tomorrow," says the Bochum-based chemist. In order to analyse the effect of the particle size on the catalytic activity, it is important to synthesise nanoparticles with defined size. As part of the University Alliance Ruhr, the Bochum team cooperates closely with researchers from the University of Duisburg-Essen led by Professor Stephan Schulz, who produce the catalyst particles.
-end-
University Alliance Ruhr

Since 2007, the three Ruhr region universities have been engaged in close strategic cooperation under the umbrella of the UA Ruhr. By pooling their strengths, the partner institutions are systematically expanding their output. There are now over 100 cooperations in the fields of research, teaching and administration, all built on the principle of being "better together". With over 120,000 students and almost 1,300 professors, the UA Ruhr is one of the largest and best-performing hubs for science and technology in Germany.

Ruhr-University Bochum

Related Hydrogen Articles:

Hydrogen energy at the root of life
A team of international researchers in Germany, France and Japan is making progress on answering the question of the origin of life.
Hydrogen alarm for remote hydrogen leak detection
Tomsk Polytechnic University jointly with the University of Chemistry and Technology of Prague proposed new sensors based on widely available optical fiber to ensure accurate detection of hydrogen molecules in the air.
Preparing for the hydrogen economy
In a world first, University of Sydney researchers have found evidence of how hydrogen causes embrittlement of steels.
Hydrogen boride nanosheets: A promising material for hydrogen carrier
Researchers at Tokyo Institute of Technology, University of Tsukuba, and colleagues in Japan report a promising hydrogen carrier in the form of hydrogen boride nanosheets.
World's fastest hydrogen sensor could pave the way for clean hydrogen energy
Hydrogen is a clean and renewable energy carrier that can power vehicles, with water as the only emission.
Chemical hydrogen storage system
Hydrogen is a highly attractive, but also highly explosive energy carrier, which requires safe, lightweight and cheap storage as well as transportation systems.
Observing hydrogen's effects in metal
Microscopy technique could help researchers design safer reactor vessels or hydrogen storage tanks.
The 'Batman' in hydrogen fuel cells
In a study published in Nature on Jan. 31, researchers at the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) report advances in the development of hydrogen fuel cells that could increase its application in vehicles, especially in extreme temperatures like cold winters.
Paving the way for more efficient hydrogen cars
Hydrogen-powered vehicles emit only water vapor from their tailpipes, offering a cleaner alternative to fossil-fuel-based transportation.
New catalyst produces cheap hydrogen
QUT chemistry researchers have discovered cheaper and more efficient materials for producing hydrogen for the storage of renewable energy that could replace current water-splitting catalysts.
More Hydrogen News and Hydrogen Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.