Simple Nanopowders For Electrolysis | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 91 Issue 2 | p. 34 | Concentrates
Issue Date: January 14, 2013

Simple Nanopowders For Electrolysis

Easy-to-process Ni–Mo powders can be cast onto electrode substrates and used as an efficient hydrogen-evolving catalyst
Department: Science & Technology
News Channels: Materials SCENE, Nano SCENE
Keywords: electrocatalyst, hydrogen evolution, electrolysis, nanopowder
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Precipitation and reduction lead to a Ni-Mo nanopowder catalyst that can be solution-cast onto electrodes.
Credit: ACS Catalysis
Three vials. Reaction arrows indicate that (left to right) the blue is transformed into green through application of heat, and the green is transformed to black by heat and dihydrogen.
 
Precipitation and reduction lead to a Ni-Mo nanopowder catalyst that can be solution-cast onto electrodes.
Credit: ACS Catalysis

A nickel-molybdenum catalyst to generate hydrogen from water can now be synthesized as a nanopowder, greatly improving its processability and allowing it to be studied in better detail (ACS Catal., DOI: 10.1021/cs300691m). James R. McKone, Harry B. Gray, and colleagues at Caltech prepared the Ni-Mo nanopowders in a two-step process, starting with an aqueous solution of nickel hexammine and ammonium molybdate. Heating the mixture in diethylene glycol produced a mixed Ni-Mo oxide precipitate, which was isolated and reduced with hydrogen to generate the Ni-Mo nanopowder. Scientists are developing nickel- or steel-based catalysts for the hydrogen evolution reaction because they are much cheaper than and nearly as active as traditional noble-metal electrocatalysts. The Caltech researchers found that the new powders can be suspended in solvents and, without a support material, be cast as layers onto electrode surfaces. Among other techniques, they used electron microscopy to determine that the catalyst material’s high porosity contributes to its activity.

 
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