From Brookhaven Lab: “Nanosheet Catalyst Discovered to Sustainably Split Hydrogen from Water”

Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Low-cost non-noble electrocatalyst efficiently generates hydrogen gas for fuel

May 9, 2012
Justin Eure, Peter Genzer

“Hydrogen gas offers one of the most promising sustainable energy alternatives to limited fossil fuels. But traditional methods of producing pure hydrogen face significant challenges in unlocking its full potential, either by releasing harmful carbon dioxide into the atmosphere or requiring rare and expensive chemical elements such as platinum.

Now, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory have developed a new electrocatalyst that addresses one of these problems by generating hydrogen gas from water cleanly and with much more affordable materials. The novel form of catalytic nickel-molybdenum-nitride – described in a paper published online May 8, 2012 in the journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition – surprised scientists with its high-performing nanosheet structure, introducing a new model for effective hydrogen catalysis.

‘We wanted to design an optimal catalyst with high activity and low costs that could generate hydrogen as a high-density, clean energy source,’ said Brookhaven Lab chemist Kotaro Sasaki, who first conceived the idea for this research. ‘We discovered this exciting compound that actually outperformed our expectations.’ ”

This magnified image from a transmission electron microscope reveals details of the unexpected nanosheet structure of the nickel-molybdenum-nitride catalyst, seen here as dark, straight lines. No image credit.

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One of ten national laboratories overseen and primarily funded by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Brookhaven National Laboratory conducts research in the physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences, as well as in energy technologies and national security. Brookhaven Lab also builds and operates major scientific facilities available to university, industry and government researchers. Brookhaven is operated and managed for DOE’s Office of Science by Brookhaven Science Associates, a limited-liability company founded by Stony Brook University, the largest academic user of Laboratory facilities, and Battelle, a nonprofit, applied science and technology organization.

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