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306: Oxygen evolving nickel foam catalyst

Problem:

Scientists already have the technical ability to both desalinate seawater and split it to produce hydrogen, which is in demand as a source of clean energy. But existing methods require multiple steps performed at high temperatures over a lengthy period of time in order to produce a catalyst with the needed efficiency. That requires substantial amounts of energy and drives up the cost.

Solution:

Oxygen evolving nickel foam catalyst


Zhifeng Ren Anderson Professor of physics and a team at the University of Texas Center for Superconductivity at UH (TcSUH) have developed an oxygen evolving catalyst that takes just minutes to grow at room temperature on commercially available nickel foam.

Paired with a previously reported hydrogen evolution reaction catalyst, it can achieve industrially required current density for overall seawater splitting at low voltage.

Ren’s research group and others have previously reported a nickel-iron-(oxy)hydroxide compound as a catalyst to split seawater, but producing the material required a lengthy process conducted at temperatures between 300 Celsius and 600 Celsius, or as high as 1,100° Fahrenheit. The high energy cost made it impractical for commercial use, and the high temperatures degraded the structural and mechanical integrity of the nickel foam, making long-term stability a concern.

To address both cost and stability, the researchers discovered a process to use nickel-iron-(oxy)hydroxide on nickel foam, doped with a small amount of sulphur to produce an effective catalyst at room temperature within five minutes. Working at room temperature both reduced the cost and improved mechanical stability. They developed a one-step surface engineering approach to fabricate highly porous self-supported S-doped Ni/Fe (oxy)hydroxide catalysts from commercial Ni foam in 1 to 5 minutes at room temperature

Discover Solution 307: Pesticide eco-friendly

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