Burning hydrogen produces water as a by-product, thus, hydrogen is a clean fuel for the vehicles. Besides, this property of the hydrogen makes it suitable for use as an energy source. However, hydrogen production from fossil fuels emits carbon dioxide on a large level.
Recently, the researchers are trying to produce hydrogen by using electricity for splitting water molecules. The electrolysis procedure includes usage of the catalytic electrode for accelerating hydrogen production. Uptake of this technique lowers the need for electricity for electrolysis procedures.
Yonghua Du, a researcher at A*STAR Institute of Chemical and Engineering Sciences is collaborating with a group of Hua Zhang from Nanyang Technological University is investigating on catalytic capabilities of nanomaterials.
The investigators focused on the zigzag chains formed of rhenium atoms between the layers of selenium and sulfur. The study used chemical reagent for insertion of lithium between the atomic layers. The addition of water triggers the splitting of material in the size of two nanometers.
The team tested nanoparticles, which include varying amount of selenium and sulfur. The material that included the same amount of selenium and sulfur showed better catalytic performance. This required the lowermost voltage for evolving the hydrogen from the reaction. This material is stable and showed the tiny performance loss after more than 20,000 testing experiments.
Du’s team used X-rays absorption spectroscopy for exploring further on the pattern of atoms in placed the nanoparticles. Zhang’s team conducted experiments and theoretical calculations for determining the size and improved catalytic activity of nanoparticles. Both the teams found that the procedure used for application of nanoparticles could create defects for removing sulfur from the structure.
This approach can help to design the high-performance electrocatalysts.