Advancements in Catalyst Technology Transform Acidic Water Splitting

A major breakthrough in the field of electrocatalytic water splitting, a crucial technology for converting intermittent solar and wind energy into clean hydrogen fuel, has been achieved by researchers from the Shanghai Institute of Ceramics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, working in collaboration with others.

As detailed in a publication in Science Advances, a quinary high-entropy oxide based on ruthenium and iridium has shown significant potential for widespread use in proton exchange membrane water electrolyzers (PEMWE). This development is particularly significant in the pursuit of a hydrogen-based society.

The challenge in the journey towards a hydrogen society has been the harsh acidic environment within proton exchange membranes (PEMs), which has limited the long-term viability of ruthenium oxide (RuO2). However, Professor Wang Xianying and the research team have unveiled a quinary high-entropy ruthenium iridium-based oxide, known as M-RuIrFeCoNiO2, which exhibits promising applications within PEMWE.

Innovatively, they adopted a unique synthesis approach for M-RuIrFeCoNiO2, creating a profusion of grain boundaries (GBs). This innovation has significantly enhanced the catalytic effectiveness and stability of RuO2 in acidic oxygen evolution reactions (OER), successfully overcoming previous constraints.

The strategic incorporation of foreign metal elements and grain boundaries into the oxide catalyst played a pivotal role in augmenting OER performance and durability. This groundbreaking methodology effectively resolves the thermodynamic solubility challenges associated with diverse metal elements.

In practical tests, the results were striking: a PEMWE employing the M-RuIrFeCoNiO2 catalyst consistently maintained a high current density of 1 A cm-2 for over 500 hours. This achievement marks a major leap forward in PEMWE technology and offers substantial potential for the large-scale production of clean hydrogen fuel.

This study not only introduces an innovative synthesis approach for high-entropy oxides but also delivers valuable insights into their performance and stability within the context of PEMWE, contributing significantly to the advancement of clean energy solutions.

Source: Chinese Academy of Sciences

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