Researchers from Berkeley have developed a simple method of manufacturing fine sheets of carbide of low-cost metals, which can be used to effectively split water to oxygen and hydrogen.
To create a catalyst, scientists mix gelatin with molybdenum ions, tungsten, cobalt or others, and then poured with water. Then they give the composition to frozen, while the gelatin independently forms a layered structure, which leads to the formation of sheets of metal ions, the thickness of only a few nanometers. The heating of the mixture to 600 ° C leads to the fact that the metals react with coal carbon atoms, forming large carbide sheets. The rest of the unreacted product is simply burning.
The effectiveness of catalysts was determined, placing them into the water and passing the electric current through them. As a result, it was found that the molybdenum carbide was best cleaved atoms H2O, then a connection with tungsten, and not third place nanolists with cobalt. The remaining metals were less effective. Scientists also revealed that, adding a small amount of cobalt to molybdenum ions, increases the capacity of the catalyst.
According to scientists, the high efficiency of materials is due to their two-dimensional form, which provides good contact of water with the surface, which stimulates the splitting reaction. The transformation indicators are close to the level of catalysts from platinum and carbon, which is the gold standard in this area. However, the lower cost of the new version allows you to use it on an industrial scale.
A snapshot of a nanoscale metal carbide sheet.
At the moment, the team studies the effectiveness of compounds with other metals and their possible combinations. Researchers argue that the transition to renewable energy sources will significantly increase the need for hydrogen, which will be the replacement of fossil fuels and can feed equipment into cloudy and windless days.
Another type of amazing catalyst presented researchers from the University of Pittsburgh. They developed