The Elements of Innovation Discovered

Nickel catalyst for faster H2 electrolysis

Metal Tech News - March 27, 2024


Improving the efficient production and release of hydrogen bubbles from electrolyzed water has been achieved by a unique angled nanotube approach using nickel rather than thin-film compositions of platinum.

Introducing 3D nickel catalysts for faster and cheaper production of hydrogen from water.

A team of researchers from Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) in South Korea has developed a new three-dimensional nickel catalyst that shows promise for producing more hydrogen from water at lower costs.

The production of hydrogen from water typically involves the use of platinum or other similar precious metals, which pushes up the costs of producing this clean-burning fuel. Additionally, the formation of hydrogen bubbles on the surface of conventional thin-film catalysts creates blockages that reduce its efficiency.


The POSTECH team has created a nickel catalyst featuring a nanorod protrusion structure, incorporating three-dimensional pore channels and a superaerophobic surface to facilitate rapid separation of hydrogen bubbles from the catalyst surface, significantly enhancing the efficiency of hydrogen production.

To overcome both of these challenges related to producing hydrogen by electrolyzing water, the POSTECH researchers created a new 3D catalyst material that features an obliquely angled nickel nanorod protrusion structure, incorporating efficient pore channels and superaerophobic surface wettability – the ability of a liquid droplet to maintain or spread on a solid surface. This allows for the rapid separation of hydrogen bubbles from the nickel catalyst's surface.

The new 3D nickel catalyst is not only produced at a fraction of the cost but results in a significant increase in hydrogen production within the water electrolysis system.

In contrast to conventional nanostructures that only augment the catalyst's surface area, the researchers engineered a highly porous nickel nanorod array, presenting unique surface properties to improve hydrogen adherence.

The team's 3D catalyst material demonstrated a remarkable 55-fold improvement in hydrogen production efficiency compared to an equivalent amount of nickel in a traditional thin-film structure.

"By enhancing the efficiency of the water electrolysis process for green hydrogen production, we are advancing towards a hydrogen economy and a carbon-neutral society," explained Professor Jong Kyu Kim and Ph. D. Jaerim Kim, the lead researchers for the project. "This breakthrough not only benefits water electrolysis but also holds promise for various other renewable energy applications where surface reactions play a crucial role, such as carbon dioxide reduction and light energy conversion systems."

Professors Jong Kyu Kim and Yong-Tae Kim, Ph.D. candidate Jaerim Kim, and Doctor Sang-Mun Jung from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at POSTECH published their research findings in Advanced Materials.


Reader Comments(0)