In a continuous search for a renewable and efficient alternative to fossil fuels, researchers at university of central florida look to the ocean. clean hydrogen fuel is a promising option as it produces water, rather than carbon. according to the US department of energy, if hydrogen fuel is made cheaper and easier to produce, it can have a major role in combating climate change. so far, it has been commonly generated through the process of ‘electrolysis,’ or the use of electricity to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. because of technical impracticalities, especially with seawater, this process has proven to be challenging and inefficient — until now.
researchers at the university of central florida have designed for the first time a nanoscale material that can efficiently split seawater into oxygen and the clean energy fuel option, hydrogen. this stable, long-lasting nanoscale material which catalyzes the reaction is explained in depth in the journal advanced materials.
HOW IT WORKS
A team of researchers at university of central florida have developed a thin-film material which help to catalyze the production of hydrogen fuel from seawater. this material has nanostructures on its surface made from nickel selenide with added, or ‘doped,’ iron and phosphor. the combination lends the high performance and stability that are needed for the process of electrolysis at an industrial-scale which has so far been difficult to achieve due to issues, like competing reactions, within the system that lessen efficiency.
yang yang, associate professor in UCF’s nanoscience technology center and co-author of the study comments: ‘the seawater electrolysis performance achieved by the dual-doped film far surpasses those of the most recently reported, state-of-the-art electrolysis catalysts and meets the demanding requirements needed for practical application in the industries.’ he notes that the team will work to continue to improve the electrical efficiency of the materials they’ve developed. they are also looking for opportunities and funding to accelerate and help commercialize the work.
yang yang, associate professor in ucf’s nanoscience technology center | image courtesy of UCF