Scientists Found a Low-Cost Way to Produce the World’s Cleanest Energy Source

Removing Hurdle to Producing Hydrogen from Water

Scientists Found a Low-Cost Way to Produce the World’s Cleanest Energy Source
Although it is simple in theory, splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen is a complex process, requiring two separate reactions -- a hydrogen evolution reaction and an oxygen evolution reaction, each requiring a separate electrode.

Scientists at the University of Houston have devised a revolutionary catalyst for water splitting. It will be the cleanest energy source for producing clean hydrogen fuel in the future.

Hydrogen is considered as the most efficient renewable energy resource. But the task is to produce it at an efficient and affordable price. Now, scientists have addressed both issues through their catalyst. The catalyst which developed from easily available, cheap materials deliver more efficiency under the affordable price that existing solutions.

Paul C. W. Chu, one of the team member said, Hydrogen is the alternative source of energy we have on Earth. Water could be the most abundant source of hydrogen if one could separate the hydrogen from its strong bond with oxygen in the water by using a catalyst.”

It needs two reactions for water splitting into hydrogen and oxygen- one for each element. But the issue here to get an effective catalyst for oxygen reaction.

In actual, the catalyst is made from two a ferrous metaphosphate and a conductive nickel foam platform. This combination of materials shows impressive durability and operates for more than 20 hours and 10,000 cycles without a hitch.

Zhifeng Ren, M.D. Anderson professor of physics said, “Cost-wise, it is much lower and performance-wise, much better. Some catalysts are outstanding but are only stable for one or two hours.”

Scientists noted, “Hydrogen has a number of advantages. Mainly, it is obtained from water splitting by an electrochemical process, called water electrolysis, has been considered as the cleanest energy source to replace fossil fuels. It also meets the rising global energy demand, since water is both the sole starting material and byproduct when clean energy is produced by converting H2 back to water.”

Currently, hydrogen is produced via steam-methane reforming and coal gasification. But, these methods raise the fuel’s carbon footprint despite the fact that it burns cleanly. In the case of this newly developed catalyst, hydrogen can be produced without creating waste carbon.

Shuo Chen, principal investigators with the Texas Center for Superconductivity at UH said, “Oxygen evolution reactions often depend upon an electrocatalyst using a “noble metal” – iridium, platinum or ruthenium. But those are expensive and not readily available.”

“In this work, we discovered a highly active and stable electrocatalyst based on earth-abundant elements, which even outperforms the noble metal based ones. Our discovery may lead to a more economic approach for hydrogen production from water electrolysis.”