Novel Approach to Construct Highly Active and Durable Electrocatalyst for Water Splitting

As solar energy is intermittent, the need to store electrical energy produced from solar panels for usage during night time is essential for the efficient utilization of solar energy. Although current technology uses batteries to store this excess energy, the researchers are currently exploring alternative ways to store such excess energy, the water electrolysis. Essential to push this potential technology, that is more environmentally benign and predicted to be more economic, is the construction of efficient catalysts that can help achieving this transformation effectively.

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Researchers from Zewail City-Center of Materials Science-Functional Materials group, uncovered a novel pathway to construct nanocatalyst based on Ni and graphene, for converting electrical energy into chemical energy through splitting water molecules to produce oxygen. The construction of highly microporous solid on graphene sheets in a novel way was demonstrated in this research, followed by loading the Ni ions into the composite and finally transforming the three component system through electrochemical processing into nanoparticles of Ni(OH)2 deposited within a matrix of zirconia on graphene, explains Dr. Alkordi, Co-founder and Codirector of the Center for Materials Science.

 

The article was a result of international collaboration and appeared at the Chemical Communication journal, published by the Royal Society of Chemistry.

 

This novel approach of constructing highly active and durable catalyst overcomes current approaches utilizing pyrolysis at considerable high temperatures to result in carbonaceous forms doped with active metals. The presence of graphene in the composite provided an attractive alternative, low cost, approach to deposit the metal hydroxide nanocatalyst through mild electrochemical restructuring process.