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Gelatin Guides the Self-Assembly of Transition Metal Carbides for Hydrogen Electrocatalysis
Foundry users and staff have developed a method to make a new, cheap and effective catalyst that can generate hydrogen gas by electrocatalysis.
Significance and Impact
The new catalyst is as effective but significantly cheaper than existing platinum catalysts and generates hydrogen gas without producing carbon dioxide as a byproduct. The discovery will enable low-cost hydrogen manufacturing processes and provides a new source of hydrogen for alternative energy technologies.
- The research team created 2-dimensional nanosheets of transition metal carbides by mixing metal ions with gelatin. Gelatin self-assembles into layers as it solidifies, arranging the metal ions into flat sheets.
- Heating the mixture causes the metal ions to react with carbon atoms in the gelatin, forming nanometer-thin sheets of metal carbide while unreacted gelatin burns away.
- The researchers found that a molybdenum-cobalt carbide catalyst is competitive with the industry standard platinum, with the added benefit of costing significantly less.
X. Zang, W. Chen, X. Zou, J. N. Hohman, L. Yang, B. Li, M. Wei, C. Zhu, J. Liang, M. Sanghadasa, J. Gu, L. Lin. Adv. Mater. 2018, 30, 1805188. DOI: 10.1002/adma.201805188