QUT Chemistry researchers have discovered cheaper and more efficient materials for hydrogen production that allow the storage of renewable energy that can replace the current water separation catalysts.
Professor Anthony O 'Mullane said that the chemical storage potential of renewable energy in the form of hydrogen was being studied worldwide.
"The Australian government is interested in developing a hydrogen export industry to export our abundant renewable energy," said Professor O & # 39; Mullane of the Faculty of Science and Technology. QUT engineering.
"In principle, hydrogen provides a way to store clean energy at a scale necessary to make viable the deployment of large-scale solar and wind farms, as well as energy export." green.
"However, current methods using carbon sources to produce hydrogen emit carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that mitigates the benefits of using renewable energy from the sun and the wind .
"The electrochemical fractionation of water through electricity derived from renewable energy technology has been identified as one of the most sustainable methods of producing high purity hydrogen. "
Professor O & # 39; Mullane said the new composite material that he and his PhD student Ummul Sultana has developed a system for electrochemically breaking water into hydrogen and oxygen using little elements expensive and readily available as catalysts.
"Traditionally, water separation catalysts rely on precious metals such as iridium oxide, ruthenium oxide and platinum," he said. .
"An additional problem was the stability, especially for the part of the oxygen release process.
"What we have discovered is that we can use two cheaper and abundant alternatives on Earth – cobalt and nickel oxide with only a fraction of gold nanoparticles – to create a stable bifunctional catalyst. to split water and produce hydrogen without emissions.
"From the point of view of the industry, it is quite judicious to use a single catalyst instead of two different catalysts to produce hydrogen from water."
Professor O & # 39; Mullane said the stored hydrogen could then be used in fuel cells.
"Fuel cells are a mature technology, already deployed in many vehicle brands, that use hydrogen and oxygen as fuel to generate electricity – essentially the opposite of the separation of fuel. l & # 39; water.
"With a large amount of" cheap "hydrogen, we can reintroduce the electricity generated by fuel cells into the grid when it is needed during peak periods or to power our transport system, the only thing emitted being water. "
"The doping of gold in a multilayer system of Co-Ni hydroxide via a galvanic replacement of the whole electrochemical" was published in Advanced functional materials.
Plastic sheets turn water into fuel
Ummul K. Sultana et al. Splitting of water: gold doping in a multilayered system of Co-Ni hydroxide via a galvanic replacement for the overall electrochemical fractionation of water (Adv Funct., Mater. 43/2018), Advanced functional materials (2018). DOI: 10.1002 / adfm.201870706