February 25, 2024

Efficient Catalyst Developed for Methanol-Assisted Water Splitting to Generate Hydrogen

Researchers from Yangzhou University in China have developed an efficient bi-functional catalyst for methanol-assisted water splitting to generate hydrogen. This breakthrough is a significant step toward green hydrogen generation, which is considered the best choice for renewable energy sources.

Hydrogen energy is an environmentally friendly energy carrier and plays a vital role in the transition to a green economy. However, the energy input required for water splitting is high, with a thermodynamic requirement of 1.23 V. Additionally, the cell voltage for practical water electrolysis can exceed 1.8 V due to the slow kinetics of the oxygen evolution reaction (OER).

To overcome these challenges and enable hydrogen production with low energy consumption, researchers have been exploring the use of methanol-assisted water electrolysis. Methanol, with its low oxidation potential of 0.016 V, can be combined with renewable energy sources to achieve efficient hydrogen production.

The key to realizing this sustainable vision of green hydrogen production lies in finding efficient bi-functional catalysts for catalytic methanol oxidation and the hydrogen evolution reaction. Traditional catalyst surfaces, such as platinum-based catalysts, are susceptible to poisoning by adsorbed CO intermediates (CO*), leading to sluggish reaction kinetics and degradation of catalytic performance. This limitation hampers the development of methanol electrolysis for hydrogen production.

To address this issue, the research team led by Prof. Ligang Feng from Yangzhou University has developed a new platform using MoSe2 nanosheets to support Pt nanoparticles. This bi-functional Pt/MoSe2 system significantly improves the catalytic activity and stability of methanol-assisted water splitting for hydrogen generation.

The oxophilic MoSe2 component with two-dimensional structures enhances the adsorption of CO* and H* on Pt sites, as demonstrated by spectroscopic and theoretical analysis. This optimized adsorption leads to improved catalytic ability in methanol-assisted water splitting reactions. The peak current density achieved using this catalyst was 2.5 times higher than that of the commercial Pt/C catalyst for methanol oxidation. Additionally, a small overpotential of only 32 mV was required to achieve a current density of 10 mA cm–2 for the hydrogen evolution reaction in the methanol-containing electrolyte.

When used as both the cathode and anode, the catalyst exhibited a low-cell voltage requirement of 0.66 V for 10 mA cm–2, which is significantly lower than the 1.75 V typically required for water splitting. These findings, published in the Chinese Journal of Catalysis, highlight the potential of the bi-functional Pt/MoSe2 catalyst for efficient methanol-assisted water splitting to generate hydrogen.

This research represents a significant contribution to the development of green hydrogen production methods. By overcoming the limitations of traditional catalysts, this efficient bi-functional catalyst offers a promising solution for generating hydrogen through methanol-assisted water splitting, bringing us closer to a greener and more sustainable future.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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