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Researchers at Curtin University recently identified a new, less expensive, and more effective electrocatalyst to produce green hydrogen from water that could, in the future, open new doors for more extensive production of clean energy.

According to a Phys.org report, scientists have usually been using "precious metal catalysts" like platinum for the acceleration of the reaction to break water into oxygen and hydrogen.

Now, this study has shown adding cobalt and nickel to cheaper, formerly inefficient catalysts improve their performance, which is lowering the energy needed for the splitting of the water and increases the production of hydrogen.

According to Dr. Guohua Jia, the study's lead researcher, from Curtain's School of Molecular and Life Sciences, this finding could have far-reaching insinuations for sustainable production of green fuel in the future.

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Science Times - Switch From Fossil Fuels To Clean Energy by Using Previously Inefficient Catalysts May Help Achieve Better Hydrogen Production
(Photo : Luca Silvioli on Wikimedia Commons)
Catalyst nanoparticles

2D Iron-Sulfur Nanocrystals

Describing their research, Dr. Jia said it vitally saw "us take two-dimensional iron-sulfur nanocrystals," which usually do not work as catalysts for the electricity-driven response that's getting hydrogen from water, and add small quantities of nickel and cobalt ions.

The lead researcher added, when they did this, it totally transformed the poor-functioning iron-sulfur into a viable, not to mention, efficient catalyst.

Using these more abundant materials is less expensive and more effective compared to the present benchmark material known as the ruthenium oxide, which is coined from ruthenium element, and it is costly.

Jhia also explained, their findings not just broaden the present "palate of possible particle combinations," but introduce as well, a new, effective catalyst that may be helpful in other applications.

Ruthenium Oxide

According to Corrosionpedia, the most typical type of ruthenium oxide, ruthenium (IV) oxide is an inorganic compound in a solid crystal form, in black color. This oxide is commonly used as an oxygen catalyst in the generation of chlorine and chlorine oxides.

Ruthenium oxide has two types. These include the earlier mentioned, ruthenium (IV) oxide with the chemical formula RuO2, and ruthenium (VIII) oxide with the chemical formula RuO4.

Essentially, materials made from ruthenium oxide are used for the manufacturing of fuel cell catalysts. Furthermore, they are also considered better than non-carbon-based materials since ruthenium oxide provides higher corrosion stability.

In addition, ruthenium oxide powers show higher corrosion ability than carbon. The complete version of Ru2Nh2O to the RuO2 stage by post reduction in a hydrogen atmosphere results in improved conductivity to corrosion stability.

The shift from Fossil Fuels to Clean Energy

This study, published in Nano Energy, also opens new avenues for future studies in the field of energy, putting, specifically Australia, at the forefront of renewable and clean energy research and application.

Jia said the next steps would be the expansion and testing of the work of their team on a large scale to determine if it is commercially viable.

The lead researchers continued explaining, only 21 percent of energy is generated from renewables in the national energy market, which specifies clearly, more initiatives are required from Australia to make a shift from fossil fuels to clean energy.

However, such a transition is only plausible when the knowledge from the research field gets translated into real-world solutions and applications in the energy field.

This particular research was a collaboration of scientists Dr. Jia and Dr. Franca Jones from the School of Molecular and Life Sciences of Curtin; and Zongping Shao, a professor from WA School of Mines: Minerals, Energy and Chemical Engineering.

Related information about ruthenium is shown on Thoisoi2's YouTube video below:

 

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