Established in 2020 Saturday, January 16, 2021


Decoding the way catalysts work
Oxygen bubbles produced on an electrocatalyst during water splitting. Image courtesy: ETH Zurich / Matthias Frei.



ZURICH.- Hydrogen is a key element for achieving sustainable mobility in the future, especially “green” hydrogen produced by splitting water using renewable power. In fuel cells, hydrogen can be used in chemical reactions to generate electrical energy, which in turn can power electric motors. It is also used in the production of synthetic liquid fuels.

The process of using electricity to split water (electrolysis) involves two reactions that cannot take place independently: the formation of hydrogen at one electrode and oxygen at the other. Chemists call these two partial reactions hydrogen evolution and oxygen evolution. To make the whole process more energy-​efficient, scientists are researching the use of new materials that act as catalysts and thus facilitate these partial reactions.

Surface chemistry plays a decisive role
“By far the biggest challenge in developing catalysts for these two partial reactions is the oxygen evolution reaction,” says Javier Pérez-​Ramírez, Professor of Catalysis Engineering at ETH Zurich. An international research team led by the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society in Berlin and involving the participation of ETH Zurich has now conducted a study that has yielded fundamentally new insights into catalyst materials for this oxygen evolution reaction. The researchers have been able to show that good catalytic performance is driven chiefly by processes that occur on the surface of the catalyst – and not electrochemical processes.

“We studied a special form of catalysis, namely electrocatalysis, and we found that it obeys the known laws of conventional catalytic reactions,” says Guido Zichittella, a scientist in Pérez-​Ramírez’s group. This finding is new because scientists previously thought that electrocatalytic reactions are primarily determined by electrochemical processes.

Specific catalytic activity
In their study, the researchers used catalysts made from the material most commonly used today by research labs to carry out this reaction: iridium oxide. ETH professor Pérez-​Ramírez and his group produced catalysts with varying degrees of activity, replacing different amounts of catalytically active oxygen atoms with catalytically inactive chlorine atoms. These catalysts enabled the researchers to examine the effects of surface chemistry separately from electrochemistry.

This new insight could help in the development of higher-​performance electrocatalysts and the search for new, cheaper catalytic materials, paving the way for sustainable, energy-​efficient and cost-​effective hydrogen production.

This research work was undertaken by researchers from the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society, the Technische Universität Berlin, the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion, ETH Zurich and the Istituto officina dei materiali in Trieste.







Today's News

November 21, 2020

Small molecule, big potential for treating prostate cancer

COVID-19 patients survive in-hospital cardiac arrest at pre-pandemic rates

Decoding the way catalysts work

UK asks regulator to study Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine

Coronavirus treatments: some progress, no panacea

A biochemical random number

CUHK researchers hope to boost immunity for SARS-CoV-2

New Chinese submersible reaches Earth's deepest ocean trench

Potential cellular target for eliminating bone breakdown in osteoporosis found

Success of COVID-19 vaccination program depends on its implementation

Student team develops noninvasive endometriosis test

Researchers peer inside deadly pathogen's burglary kit

Banking on patient samples to advance COVID-19 research

New green materials could power smart devices using ambient light

Found: a genetic link to molecular events that precede symptoms in Alzheimer's disease

Stanford researchers explore potential for kelp to relieve ocean acidification

Applying environmental genomics to coral conservation

Baby panda born in Netherlands makes public debut



 


Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez



Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the ResearchNews newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful