Holding the ability to split water for producing hydrogen that is fit for commercialization on a large scale, a low-cost hybrid catalyst has been reported by California Institute of Technology and University of Houston researchers. It is able to perform both the functions of producing oxygen and spurring a reaction to separate the hydrogen when splitting water. Made of dinickel phosphides and iron on nickel foam that is commercially available, the new catalyst flaunts this ability lacking in most systems. Other systems require two separate catalysts to perform these actions.

While generating a high current density, the new catalyst can drastically lower the amount of energy needed to produce hydrogen from water. This could mean lower cost of producing hydrogen due to lower energy requirements.

Lower Energy Requirements could Mean Lower Cost of Hydrogen Production

The new catalyst is elaborately described in Nature Communications through a paper published last Friday. According to University of Houston’s assistant professor of physics and co-author, Shuo Chen, materials used by the researchers put on a performance that is comparable with those of materials belonging to the platinum group. Moreover, they are based on earth-abundant elements. The attractive performance of these materials could be scaled up potentially, making them of choice for the commercialization of water splitting.

Throughout 40 hours of testing, the new catalyst was observed to remain effective and stable. In the same alkaline electrolyte, it was found to exhibit significantly high HER and OER activities, thus proving itself as an excellent bifunctional catalyst for the overall process of water splitting.

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