Carbon leads the way in clean energy: New method uses cheap carbon-based catalyst to deliver energy using hydrogen


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Drop of water. “Hydrogen production through an electrochemical process is at the heart of key renewable energy technologies including water splitting and hydrogen fuel cells,” says Professor Yao.
Credit: © Deyan Georgiev / Fotolia

Groundbreaking research at Griffith University is leading the way in clean energy, with the use of carbon as a way to deliver energy using hydrogen.

Professor Xiangdong Yao and his team from Griffith’s Queensland Micro- and Nanotechnology Centre have successfully managed to use the element to produce hydrogen from water as a replacement for the much more costly platinum.

“Hydrogen production through an electrochemical process is at the heart of key renewable energy technologies including water splitting and hydrogen fuel cells,” says Professor Yao.

“Despite tremendous efforts, exploring cheap, efficient and durable electrocatalysts for hydrogen evolution still remains a great challenge.

“Platinum is the most active and stable electrocatalyst for this purpose, however its low abundance and consequent high cost severely limits its large-scale commercial applications.

“We have now developed this carbon-based catalyst, which only contains a very small amount of nickel and can completely replace the platinum for efficient and cost-effective hydrogen production from water.

“In our research, we synthesize a nickel-carbon-based catalyst, from carbonization of metal-organic frameworks, to replace currently best-known platinum-based materials for electrocatalytic hydrogen evolution.

“This nickel-carbon-based catalyst can be activated to obtain isolated nickel atoms on the graphitic carbon support when applying electrochemical potential, exhibiting highly efficient hydrogen evolution performance and impressive durability.”

Proponents of a hydrogen economy advocate hydrogen as a potential fuel for motive power including cars and boats and on-board auxiliary power, stationary power generation (e.g., for the energy needs of buildings), and as an energy storage medium (e.g., for interconversion from excess electric power generated off-peak).

Professor Yao says that this work may enable new opportunities for designing and tuning properties of electrocatalysts at atomic scale for large-scale water electrolysis.


Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Griffith University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Lili Fan, Peng Fei Liu, Xuecheng Yan, Lin Gu, Zhen Zhong Yang, Hua Gui Yang, Shilun Qiu, Xiangdong Yao.Atomically isolated nickel species anchored on graphitized carbon for efficient hydrogen evolution electrocatalysis. Nature Communications, 2016; 7: 10667 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms10667
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Dateline Australia: World’s First Technology Breakthrough In Using Graphene For Micro Devices


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Next month, Dr. Iacopi will travel to Seattle in the US to address the 4th International Symposium on Graphene Devices.

 

 

 

 

Dr. Francesca Iacopi

Researchers are claiming world-first technology developed at Griffith University will harness the remarkable properties of graphene and could launch the next generation of mass produced, low-cost micro-devices.

Dr. Francesca Iacopi’s novel micro-fabrication process enables production-scale manufacturing of a material companies can use to commercially produce sensor devices which are biocompatible, chemically resistant and highly sensitive.

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“We believe this process will change the way we live by providing the ultimate in device miniaturisation,” says Dr Iacopi, from Griffith University’s Queensland Micro- and Nanotechnology Centre.

“It will influence a lot of different sectors because many modern applications relying on micro and nano-devices will be able to advance by incorporating this technology,” says Dr Iacopi, from Griffith University’s Queensland Micro and Nanotechnology Centre.

“For example, medicine is just one area where this technology can be applied. Someone with diabetes could have a nanochip sitting on their skin -– mass produced with the help of our micro-fabrication process — continuously monitoring their blood, and any changes can be relayed directly to a doctor.”

First isolated in the laboratory about a decade ago, graphene is pure carbon and one of the thinnest, lightest and strongest materials known.

A supreme conductor of electricity and heat, much has been written about its mechanical, electrical, thermal and optical properties and the possibilities with the fabrication of new and advanced micro-devices.

However, progress so far has been slow due to the difficulty in synthesising high quality graphene on to Silicon wafers, which would enable cost-effective mass production of such devices.

That problem has now been overcome.

Working with three PhDs, a postdoctorate, national and international collaborators Dr Iacopi has developed:

  • a low temperature process to synthesise graphene by using a metal alloy catalyst which produces a continuous, high quality, controllable graphene film;
  • a strategy for patterning graphene in such a way that it will grow only on a pre-patterned Silicon Carbide (SiC) layer on Silicon.

“Until now, high quality graphene was restricted to the use of expensive SiC wafers or the use of complicated transfer procedures to Silicon wafers. A cheaper substrate and a simpler methodology was badly needed to ensure the micro-devices would be cost-competitive,” says Dr Iacopi.

“At Griffith, we were the first develop a method for depositing a very high quality thin layer of SiC on to 300mm Si wafers.

“This work is still very early but the prospects are very exciting and broad-ranging.”

Dr Iacopi and her team have already begun seeking industry partners to leverage the technology in an industrial product.