IISc Develops Cheaper Method of Producing Hydrogen Gas
Researchers at Indian Institute
of Science (IISC) have developed a low cost catalyst that can help in splitting
of water to hydrogen gas.
The team has developed it by combining cobalt oxide with phosphate salts of sodium. It is two-hundred times less expensive than the currently used ruthenium dioxide catalyst. Ruthenium and platinum currently used in catalysts are precious and rare metals.The new catalysts can be used for large scale applications in many devices such as metal-air batteries, fuel cells etc. The team behind the innovation is Prabeer Barpanda, Asst Professor and Ritambhara Gond, PhD students at the Materials Research Centre of IISc. Colloborators in the research were from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research.
When water is split using electricity in the presence of a catalyst, hydrogen atoms receive electrons from one electrode to form hydrogen gas, while at the opposite electrode, oxygen gas is released (Oxygen Evolution Reaction). Researchers have largely focused on speeding up the latter reaction. Catalysts made of platinum or ruthenium metals are the most efficient at this, as they waste the least energy, and reaction rates are higher. Their cost and scarcity, however, hinders their large-scale application.
To develop low-cost
alternatives, the IISc team turned to salts called metaphosphates, which have
previously been tested for energy storage applications but not for catalysis.
The researchers roasted sodium metaphosphate and cobalt oxide in the presence
of argon gas in a furnace deprived of oxygen. This created a “sheet” of
partially-burnt carbon onto which crystals made of cobalt oxide framed by
sodium metaphosphate were spread out.
Source: Indian Institute of Science