Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors
Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Saving sunshine for a rainy day: New catalyst offers efficient storage of green energy: Team led by U of T Engineering designs world's most efficient catalyst for storing energy as hydrogen by splitting water molecules

Researchers Xueli Zheng, left, and Dr. Bo Zhang set up their device to efficiently split water to store energy as hydrogen. The key is a catalyst made of tungsten, iron and cobalt that is over three times more efficient than the current state-of-the-art.
CREDIT: Marit Mitchell
Researchers Xueli Zheng, left, and Dr. Bo Zhang set up their device to efficiently split water to store energy as hydrogen. The key is a catalyst made of tungsten, iron and cobalt that is over three times more efficient than the current state-of-the-art.

CREDIT: Marit Mitchell

Abstract:
We can't control when the wind blows and when the sun shines, so finding efficient ways to store energy from alternative sources remains an urgent research problem. Now, a group of researchers led by Professor Ted Sargent at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering may have a solution inspired by nature.

Saving sunshine for a rainy day: New catalyst offers efficient storage of green energy: Team led by U of T Engineering designs world's most efficient catalyst for storing energy as hydrogen by splitting water molecules

Toronto, Canada | Posted on March 28th, 2016

The team has designed the most efficient catalyst for storing energy in chemical form, by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen, just like plants do during photosynthesis. Oxygen is released harmlessly into the atmosphere, and hydrogen, as H2, can be converted back into energy using hydrogen fuel cells.

"Today on a solar farm or a wind farm, storage is typically provided with batteries. But batteries are expensive, and can typically only store a fixed amount of energy," says Sargent. "That's why discovering a more efficient and highly scalable means of storing energy generated by renewables is one of the grand challenges in this field."

You may have seen the popular high-school science demonstration where the teacher splits water into its component elements, hydrogen and oxygen, by running electricity through it. Today this requires so much electrical input that it's impractical to store energy this way -- too great proportion of the energy generated is lost in the process of storing it.

This new catalyst facilitates the oxygen-evolution portion of the chemical reaction, making the conversion from H2O into O2 and H2 more energy-efficient than ever before. The intrinsic efficiency of the new catalyst material is over three times more efficient than the best state-of-the-art catalyst.

The new catalyst is made of abundant and low-cost metals tungsten, iron and cobalt, which are much less expensive than state-of-the-art catalysts based on precious metals. It showed no signs of degradation over more than 500 hours of continuous activity, unlike other efficient but short-lived catalysts. Their work was published today in the leading journal Science.

"With the aid of theoretical predictions, we became convinced that including tungsten could lead to a better oxygen-evolving catalyst. Unfortunately, prior work did not show how to mix tungsten homogeneously with the active metals such as iron and cobalt," says Dr. Bo Zhang, one of the study's lead authors. "We invented a new way to distribute the catalyst homogenously in a gel, and as a result built a device that works incredibly efficiently and robustly."

This research united engineers, chemists, materials scientists, mathematicians, physicists, and computer scientists across three countries. A chief partner in this joint theoretical-experimental study was a leading team of theorists at Stanford University and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory under the leadership of Dr. Aleksandra Vojvodic. The international collaboration included researchers at East China University of Science & Technology, Tianjin University, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Canadian Light Source and the Beijing Synchrotron Radiation Facility.

"The team developed a new materials synthesis strategy to mix multiple metals homogeneously -- thereby overcoming the propensity of multi-metal mixtures to separate into distinct phases," said Jeffrey C. Grossman, the Morton and Claire Goulder and Family Professor in Environmental Systems at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "This work impressively highlights the power of tightly coupled computational materials science with advanced experimental techniques, and sets a high bar for such a combined approach. It opens new avenues to speed progress in efficient materials for energy conversion and storage."

"This work demonstrates the utility of using theory to guide the development of improved water-oxidation catalysts for further advances in the field of solar fuels," said Gary Brudvig, a professor in the Department of Chemistry at Yale University and director of the Yale Energy Sciences Institute.

"The intensive research by the Sargent group in the University of Toronto led to the discovery of oxy-hydroxide materials that exhibit electrochemically induced oxygen evolution at the lowest overpotential and show no degradation," said University Professor Gabor A. Somorjai of the University of California, Berkeley, a leader in this field. "The authors should be complimented on the combined experimental and theoretical studies that led to this very important finding."

###

Professor Sargent is the Canada Research Chair in Nanotechnology. The group's work was supported in large part by the Ontario Research Fund--Research Excellence Program, NSERC, the CIFAR Bio-Inspired Solar Energy Program and the U.S. Department of Energy.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Marit Mitchell

416-978-4498

Copyright © University of Toronto Faculty of Applied Science & Engineeri

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Nano-microscope gives first direct observation of the magnetic properties of 2D materials: Discovery means new class of materials and technologies September 18th, 2020

Physicists make electrical nanolasers even smaller September 18th, 2020

Shape matters for light-activated nanocatalysts - Study: Pointed tips on aluminum 'octopods' increase catalytic reactivity September 18th, 2020

Aberrant electronic and structural alterations in pressure tuned perovskite NaOsO3 September 18th, 2020

Shedding Light on the Development of Efficient Blue-Emitting Semiconductors September 18th, 2020

Chemistry

Shape matters for light-activated nanocatalysts - Study: Pointed tips on aluminum 'octopods' increase catalytic reactivity September 18th, 2020

Observation charge accumulation at nanocavity on plasmonic photocatalyst August 28th, 2020

Videos/Movies

Physicists find misaligned carbon sheets yield unparalleled properties July 31st, 2020

Measuring a tiny quasiparticle is a major step forward for semiconductor technology: Research team publishes latest findings on promising quasiparticles and their interactions June 19th, 2020

Oxford Instruments Asylum Research Jupiter XR Large-Sample AFM Now Includes New Ergo Software Interface for Even Greater Productivity June 18th, 2020

Tiny pump builds polyrotaxanes with precision: Artificial molecular pump gives precise control for materials design June 12th, 2020

Possible Futures

Nano-microscope gives first direct observation of the magnetic properties of 2D materials: Discovery means new class of materials and technologies September 18th, 2020

Physicists make electrical nanolasers even smaller September 18th, 2020

Shape matters for light-activated nanocatalysts - Study: Pointed tips on aluminum 'octopods' increase catalytic reactivity September 18th, 2020

Aberrant electronic and structural alterations in pressure tuned perovskite NaOsO3 September 18th, 2020

Discoveries

Nano-microscope gives first direct observation of the magnetic properties of 2D materials: Discovery means new class of materials and technologies September 18th, 2020

Physicists make electrical nanolasers even smaller September 18th, 2020

Shape matters for light-activated nanocatalysts - Study: Pointed tips on aluminum 'octopods' increase catalytic reactivity September 18th, 2020

Aberrant electronic and structural alterations in pressure tuned perovskite NaOsO3 September 18th, 2020

Announcements

Nano-microscope gives first direct observation of the magnetic properties of 2D materials: Discovery means new class of materials and technologies September 18th, 2020

Physicists make electrical nanolasers even smaller September 18th, 2020

Shape matters for light-activated nanocatalysts - Study: Pointed tips on aluminum 'octopods' increase catalytic reactivity September 18th, 2020

Aberrant electronic and structural alterations in pressure tuned perovskite NaOsO3 September 18th, 2020

Interviews/Book Reviews/Essays/Reports/Podcasts/Journals/White papers/Posters

Who stole the light? Self-induced ultrafast demagnetization limits the amount of light diffracted from magnetic samples at soft x-ray energies September 18th, 2020

Nano-microscope gives first direct observation of the magnetic properties of 2D materials: Discovery means new class of materials and technologies September 18th, 2020

Physicists make electrical nanolasers even smaller September 18th, 2020

Shape matters for light-activated nanocatalysts - Study: Pointed tips on aluminum 'octopods' increase catalytic reactivity September 18th, 2020

Battery Technology/Capacitors/Generators/Piezoelectrics/Thermoelectrics/Energy storage

Fast calculation dials in better batteries: Analytical model from Rice University helps researchers fine-tune battery performance September 16th, 2020

Boundaries no barrier for thermoelectricity: Rice researchers find potentially useful electrical phenomenon in gold nanowires September 8th, 2020

Battery-free Game Boy runs forever: Button pressing and solar energy power the retro gaming device September 4th, 2020

Nano-diamond self-charging batteries could disrupt energy as we know it August 25th, 2020

Fuel Cells

Rescue operations become faster thanks to graphene nanotubes August 20th, 2020

Clusters of gold atoms form peculiar pyramidal shape January 3rd, 2020

Activity of fuel cell catalysts doubled: Modelling leads to the optimum size for platinum fuel cell catalysts July 5th, 2019

Artificial photosynthesis transforms carbon dioxide into liquefiable fuels May 22nd, 2019

Solar/Photovoltaic

Layer of nanoparticles could improve LED performance and lifetime August 7th, 2020

May the force be with you: Detecting ultrafast light by its force: From cell phones to solar cells - research has implications for improvements in a wide range of technologies August 7th, 2020

Crystal structure discovered almost 200 years ago could hold key to solar cell revolution July 3rd, 2020

Printed perovskite LEDs: An innovative technique towards a new standard process of electronics manufacturing June 12th, 2020

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project