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Researchers from Houston University Reports New Catalyst Creates Hydrogen from Seawater

Seawater is among the most plentiful resources on earth, offering promise as a supply of hydrogen—desirable as a source of clean energy—and drinking water in arid climates. However, even as water-splitting technologies capable of producing hydrogen from freshwater have become more practical, seawater has remained a problem.

Researchers from the Houston University have reported a significant breakthrough with a brand new oxygen evolution reaction catalyst that, mixed with a hydrogen evolution reaction catalyst, achieved present densities able to support industrial demands while requiring comparatively low voltage to begin seawater electrolysis.

Researchers say the machine, composed of cheap non-noble metal nitrides, manages to keep away from many of the obstacles that have restricted earlier attempts to produce hydrogen or safe consuming water from seawater inexpensively. The work is described in Nature Communications.

Zhifeng Ren, director of the Texas Facility for Superconductivity at UH and a corresponding author for the study, mentioned a major obstacle has been the lack of a catalyst that may effectively break seawater to produce hydrogen without also setting free ions of sodium, chlorine, calcium and different elements of seawater, which once freed can decide on the catalyst and render it inactive.

The researchers examined the catalysts with seawater drawn from Galveston Bay off the Texas coast. Ren, M.D. Anderson Chair Professor of physics at UH, stated it would work with wastewater, providing another source of hydrogen from water that’s otherwise unusable without dearer treatment.

To deal with the challenges, the researchers designed and synthesized a three-dimensional core-shell oxygen evolution reaction catalyst utilizing transition metal-nitride, with nanoparticles synthesized from a nickel-iron-nitride compound and nickel-molybdenum-nitride nanorods on porous nickel foam.

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