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Exploring hydrogen production using platinum catalysts

JUN 09, 2023
Recent developments illustrate the potential for platinum to improve the half-cell hydrogen evolution reaction.
Exploring hydrogen production using platinum catalysts internal name

Exploring hydrogen production using platinum catalysts lead image

In recent years, the search for a clean fuel has become increasingly urgent given the environmental damage wrought by fossil fuels. Hydrogen is a promising alternative fuel due to its high energy density and lack of problematic by-products.

Hydrogen is most commonly produced by steam reforming with natural gas, which releases carbon dioxide as a byproduct. Carbon-free alternative methods exist, such as electrochemical water splitting, but need additional development to be competitive.

Platinum (Pt) is an active, relatively stable cathode catalyst that is capable of large-scale, efficient hydrogen fuel cell production. A limitation of platinum, however, is its high cost and low durability.

Ke-Xiang Zhang and Zhi-Pan Liu discussed current research on the Pt-based half-cell hydrogen evolution reaction (HER).

“It is interesting that while HER looks simple at first glance, after over a hundred years of research, the mechanism on Pt remains largely unclear — both the Volmer-Tafel and the Volmer-Heyrovsky pathways were suggested in the literature,” said Liu.

The authors highlighted recent results linking Pt catalyst surface structures with kinetic quantities, providing a roadmap toward better catalysts and more efficient reactions.

“These theoretical results provide the general guidance to design more stable, lower cost, and more active Pt catalysts by focusing on the measures to stabilize low-coordinated Pt sites,” said Zhang.

Going forward, the researchers will investigate HER catalysis using less expensive metals and metal oxides, such as rhodium. Furthermore, they will potentially examine utilizing HER and other processes for direct seawater electrolysis, which could be critical in addressing the energy crisis.

Source: “Electrochemical hydrogen evolution on Pt-based catalysts from a theoretical perspective,” by Ke-Xiang Zhang and Zhi-Pan Liu, Journal of Chemical Physics (2023). The article can be accessed at https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0142540 .

This paper is part of the Chemical Physics of Electrochemical Energy Materials Collection, learn more here .

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