Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

An improved, cost-effective catalyst for water-splitting devices

Date:
January 8, 2014
Source:
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
Summary:
Scientists have created a simple and scalable technique for greatly improving water splitting as a source of clean energy.

Solar energy appears to be the only form of renewable that can be exploited at level that matches the world's growing needs. However, it is equally necessary to find efficient ways to store solar energy in order to ensure a consistent energy supply when sunlight is scarce. One of the most efficient ways to achieve this is to use solar energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, and get the energy back by consuming hydrogen in a fuel cell. But collecting solar energy on a large and sustainable scale means that such cells must be made from materials that are cheap, abundant, and have 10% solar‐to‐hydrogen conversion efficiency.

Publishing in Nature Communications, an EPFL-led team of scientists has found a method to create a high-efficiency, scalable solar water splitting device using cheap materials.

Although one of the best means of sourcing renewable energy, solar systems cannot consistently produce adequate energy since sunlight varies from time to time and place to place. A solution to this problem is a device that can store energy in the form of hydrogen for later use, offering a consistent output over time with very little pollution.

One of the most sustainable methods of producing hydrogen is photoelectrochemical (PEC) water-splitting. Solar energy is used to break water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen through a process called "hydrogen evolution reaction." This reaction requires a catalyst, which is a chemical agent that increases its speed. In PEC water-splitting devices, a common catalyst used to split water is platinum, which is deposited on the surface of the solar panel's photocathode -- the solar panel's electrode that converts light into electric current.

A research team at EPFL has now found a way to make efficient solar-powered water splitting devices using abundant and cheap materials. The group of Xile Hu developed a molybdenum-sulfide catalyst for the hydrogen evolution reaction, and the group of Michael Grätzel developed copper(I) oxide as a photocathode. The researchers found that the molybdenum sulfide can be deposited on the copper(I) oxide photocathode for use in PEC water splitting through a simple deposition process that can be easily expanded onto a large scale.

The technique shows comparable efficiency to other hydrogen evolution reaction catalysts like platinum, it preserves the optical transparency for the light-harvesting surface and it shows improved stability under acidic conditions, which could translate into lower maintenance. But more importantly, both the catalyst and the photocathode are made with cheap, earth-abundant materials that could greatly reduce the cost of PEC water-splitting devices in the future. According to senior author Xile Hu, the work represents a state-of-the-art example for solar hydrogen production devices.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Carlos G. Morales-Guio, S. David Tilley, Heron Vrubel, Michael Grätzel, Xile Hu. Hydrogen evolution from a copper(I) oxide photocathode coated with an amorphous molybdenum sulphide catalyst. Nature Communications, 2014; 5 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms4059

Cite This Page:

Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. "An improved, cost-effective catalyst for water-splitting devices." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140108081221.htm>.
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. (2014, January 8). An improved, cost-effective catalyst for water-splitting devices. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140108081221.htm
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. "An improved, cost-effective catalyst for water-splitting devices." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140108081221.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

AFP (July 25, 2014) — Europe's highest train, the little train of Artouste in the French Pyrenees, celebrates its 80th birthday. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

AP (July 24, 2014) — TSA administrator, John Pistole's took part in the Aspen Security Forum 2014, where he answered questions on lifting of the ban on flights into Israel's Tel Aviv airport and whether politics played a role in lifting the ban. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

AP (July 24, 2014) — Mobile phone companies and communities across the country are going to new lengths to disguise those unsightly cellphone towers. From a church bell tower to a flagpole, even a pencil, some towers are trying to make a point. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

TheStreet (July 23, 2014) — When The Deal's Amanda Levin exclusively reported that Gas Natural had been talking to potential suitors, the Ohio company responded with a flat denial, claiming its board had not talked to anyone about a possible sale. Lo and behold, Canadian utility Algonquin Power and Utilities not only had approached the company, but it did it three times. Its last offer was for $13 per share as Gas Natural's was trading at a 60-day moving average of about $12.50 per share. Now Algonquin, which has a 4.9% stake in Gas Natural, has taken its case to shareholders, calling on them to back its proposals or, possibly, a change in the target's board. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins