Etching process enhances the extraction of hydrogen during water electrolysis


by KeAi Communications Co., Ltd.

Schematic diagram of the etching process used on metallic phosphide electrocatalysts. Credit: The authors

Extracting hydrogen from water by electrolysis presents a promising route for rising the manufacturing of hydrogen, a clear and environmentally pleasant gas. But one main problem of water electrolysis is the sluggish response of oxygen at the anode, often called the oxygen evolution response (OER).

A collaboration between researchers at Hunan University and Shenzhen University in China has led to a discovery that guarantees to enhance the OER process. In their latest paper, revealed in the KeAi journal Green Energy & Environment, they report that etching—or, in different phrases, chemically eradicating—the oxide overlayers that type on the floor of the metallic phosphide electrocatalysts repeatedly utilized in electrolysis, can enhance OER effectivity.

Professor Shuangyin Wang of the State Key Laboratory of Chem/Bio-sensing and Chemometrics at Hunan University led the research. He explains: “While metal phosphides are often used as catalysts due to their unique physicochemical properties such as high conductivity, earth-abundance reserves and excellent performance, a common, but often neglected fact is that they are quick to suffer atmospheric oxidation when they are exposed to air. This causes them to form oxide overlayers on their surface, which can change the surface reconstruction process and confuse the structure-performance relationship.”

To remedy this drawback, Professor Wang and his colleagues determined to etch away these oxide overlayers utilizing a dielectric barrier discharge plasma method. And they found that the etching process not solely accelerated the floor reconstruction process, however enormously enhanced the formation of metallic hydroxides and OER exercise.

Prof. Wang says, “These findings are useful for understanding the structure-performance relationship of metallic phosphides in electrooxidation response. And we suspect that the similar etching process has the potential for use on different oxygen-susceptible metallic compounds comparable to chalcogenides, nitrides and carbides.

“Our hope is that our study guides the rational design and engineering of more efficient electrocatalysts for water electrolysis.”

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More data:
Tehua Wang et al, Etching oxide overlayers of NiFe phosphide to facilitate floor reconstruction for oxygen evolution response, Green Energy & Environment (2021). DOI: 10.1016/j.gee.2021.03.005

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KeAi Communications Co., Ltd.

Etching process enhances the extraction of hydrogen during water electrolysis (2021, May 17)
retrieved 17 May 2021

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