A Cost-Effective Catalyst That Can Split Water to Produce Hydrogen

Researchers at the Centre for Nano and Soft Science (CeNS) claimed that they had created an efficient and cost-effective palladium-based catalyst that can be used for electrochemical splitting of water to produce hydrogen (H2) for its consumption as low carbon fuel.

The CeNS is an autonomous institute under the Department of Science and Technology (DST).

The coordination polymer (COP)-based catalyst contains metal ions linked by coordinated organic ligands into infinite arrays. It has been used widely to produce hydrogen through the electrochemical splitting of water, a process to decompose elements of water to produce hydrogen.  The catalyst is essentially a compound of partially reduced COP and reduced graphene oxide.

In their study, researchers said that the COP-based catalyst demonstrated very high durability for 70 hours at a high current density of 300 mA/cm2. The durability and cost of synthesis decide the effectiveness of the electrocatalyst for the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER). Researchers added that carbon and platinum are effective but expensive catalysts to produce hydrogen compared to newly developed durable, efficient, and cost-effective COP-based catalysts.

According to the research, the technique of organic ligand encapsulation of metal ions on conducting platform could be imitated for another metal-based electrocatalyst to achieve long-term catalytic stability.

“Developing efficient means of splitting water to produce hydrogen and obtaining the energy required for it from solar energy would be a significant part of the sustainable and green solutions for our energy needs,” said Professor Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary of Department of Science and Technology, Government of India.

In May 2020, Researchers at Rice University in the United States of America had created a low-cost device that can split water to produce hydrogen fuel.

Meanwhile, the Indian government is currently mulling a plan to invite bids for an innovative program that would involve generating solar power, which would then be used to generate hydrogen. The hydrogen produced would then power a city’s public transport. Union Power Minister R.K. Singh noted that the only requirement of the bid would be that the per kilometer cost of the transportation should be less than diesel-driven buses.

Image credit: EBRD