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Novel catalyst converts sewage into hydrogen with improved efficiency

Researchers have taken a significant step towards a cleaner future by developing a new catalyst that harnesses the power of sewage for efficient production. This innovation, detailed in a recent study published in Advanced Functional Materials, addresses the crucial challenge of sluggish oxygen during the hydrogen generation process.

Hydrogen, a clean-burning fuel, has emerged as a promising alternative to combat the detrimental effects of fossil fuels on the . However, the current water electrolysis method suffers from a slow oxygen evolution reaction, hindering its overall efficiency.

This research team identified a solution in integrating the abundant pollutant urea, present in sewage, with hydrogen generation. Urea's process releases substantial , offering a dual benefit: increased hydrogen production and sewage purification.

The key to unlocking this potential lies in an effective catalyst. Enter the nickel--oxalate (O-NFF) catalyst, meticulously crafted by the researchers. This unique material combines iron and oxalate on nickel, boasting a vast surface area due to its nanometer-sized fragmented particles. This characteristic allows the catalyst to grip more reactants, significantly accelerating the vital urea oxidation reaction.

The O-NFF catalyst excelled in experiments, demonstrably lowering the voltage required for hydrogen generation (1.47 V RHE at 0.5 A/cm2). It maintained an impressive reaction rate even in a combined solution of potassium hydroxide and urea. Additionally, sophisticated techniques like photoelectron and X-ray absorption confirmed the catalyst's ability to expedite the urea oxidation process.

This research, a collaborative effort between Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) and the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), holds immense promise for the future. Professor Kangwoo Cho, the study's leader, expressed his enthusiasm: “We've developed a catalyst that not only purifies sewage but also enhances the efficiency of clean hydrogen production. O-NFF , combining metals and organic materials, have the potential to revolutionize industrial hydrogen production through electrolysis.”

This novel approach paves the way for a by effectively utilizing waste to generate while simultaneously addressing environmental concerns.

Source: Pohang University of Science and Technology