Chemists have developed a composite material consisting of carbon nanowires doped with ruthenium and nitrogen, which surpasses platinum in the efficiency of electrolysis of alkaline water and is not inferior in performance in an acidic environment..
Electrochemical splitting of water is a key step in the production of hydrogen as one of the options for ecological fuel. Much of the effort to reducing costs and improving efficiency of this process is aimed at finding alternatives to expensive platinum catalysts. Researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz have made strides in creating nanocomposite materials that rival the precious metal.
They found that ruthenium is highly active in producing hydrogen from water and studied its properties on an atomic scale. This allowed scientists to design and create a catalyst consisting of carbon nanowires with ruthenium atoms bonded with nitrogen to form active sites in the carbon matrix. The researchers also found that the dominant the points of activity were individual atoms, and non-nanoparticles of ruthenium.
On snapshot ruthenium coated nanowire.
Chemists have already applied for a patent and are planning to start production test samples for industrial needs. In the future, they will strive to increase the number of active zones of the nanocomposite and begin to study other alternative materials..
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We also previously reported that Berkeley researchers have developed a simple way to make thin sheets of inexpensive metal carbides that can be used to effectively break down water.
text: Ilya Bauer, photo: Lu et al., Nature Communications, biosintez, iStock