“Our discovery, that by combining these two processes we can push this catalyst to the limits of its activity, is very interesting. This unlocks not only the catalytic power of CoSe2 nanobelts, but are catalysts for all types of electrochemical reactions, “said Dr. Yuhai Dou from the Center for Clean Environment and Energy.
The thinness of nanobelts is very important to consider when modulating their electronic structure. “Nanobelts are so small that they have a thickness of about one nanometer, which is 50,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair,” Dou said. “This thinness greatly increases surface area and hence CoSe reactivity2, because only atoms on the surface can react in solution. “
In alkaline electrolysis, two electrodes are immersed in a liquid alkaline solution. When a voltage is applied, oxidation of water occurs to produce oxygen at the anode; and water reduction occurs to produce hydrogen at the cathode. Between the two electrodes is a membrane that separates gas and only allows negatively charged ions from oxygen and hydrogen to pass through. The hydrogen obtained must then be cleaned, dried and if necessary compressed.
The researchers hope their findings will advance knowledge in the fields of material science and electrochemistry. “More importantly, with hydrogen being an important part of the Australian government’s future energy strategy, this work brings Australia’s ability to meet the challenges of environmentally friendly and efficient hydrogen production a step closer to reality,” Dou said.
Australia National Hydrogen Strategy adopted last year aiming to build the country’s hydrogen industry as a major global player by 2030. However, the federal strategy remains “neutral-technology”, with both hydrogen produced through electrolysis using solar and wind energy and using fossil fuels with “capture” and substantial carbon storage (CCS) in the game At the state level, governments improve the game by providing hydrogen strategies and projects themselves as they work to unlock the potential for seasonal storage and decarbonize the gas network using green hydrogen as a substitute for natural gas.
While batteries remain a cheaper solution for transportation decarbonization, clean hydrogen fuel can also do little to combat climate change with several projects that are already working. Just this week, Australian resource giant, Fortescue Metals Group and Canadian utility ATCO have launched plans to build and operate hydrogen fueling facilities for vehicles in Western Australia. The hydrogen test vehicle hopes to receive funding under the Western Australian Government’s Renewable Hydrogen Fund.