By replacing catalysts made of expensive noble metals like platinum with cheaper, earth-abundant materials, researchers have taken a step toward enabling the large-scale production of hydrogen from sunlight and water. In a recent study, the researchers have demonstrated that catalysts made of molecular clusters based on molybdenum and sulphur can generate hydrogen from sunlight at rates comparable to those of platinum.
The new approach involves placing a single atomic layer of palladium atoms onto silver nanoparticles. ‘The structural and electronic effects from the underlying silver greatly enhance the catalytic properties of palladium, giving impressive activity for the conversion of formic acid to hydrogen and carbon dioxide at room temperature,’ Edman told us.
He explains that the storage and handling of organic liquids, such as formic acid, is much easier and safer than storing hydrogen. The catalysts would enable the production of hydrogen from liquid fuel stored in a disposable or recycled cartridge, creating miniature fuel cells to power everything from mobile phones to laptops.
Producing hydrogen in a sustainable way is a challenge and production cost is too high. A team led by EPFL Professor Xile Hu has discovered that a molybdenum based catalyst is produced at room temperature, inexpensive and efficient. The results of the research are published online in Chemical Science Thursday the 14th of April. An international patent based on this discovery has just been filed