Navigation Links
Stanford scientists develop a water splitter that runs on an ordinary AAA battery
Date:8/22/2014

In 2015, American consumers will finally be able to purchase fuel cell cars from Toyota and other manufacturers. Although touted as zero-emissions vehicles, most of the cars will run on hydrogen made from natural gas, a fossil fuel that contributes to global warming.

Now scientists at Stanford University have developed a low-cost, emissions-free device that uses an ordinary AAA battery to produce hydrogen by water electrolysis. The battery sends an electric current through two electrodes that split liquid water into hydrogen and oxygen gas. Unlike other water splitters that use precious-metal catalysts, the electrodes in the Stanford device are made of inexpensive and abundant nickel and iron.

"Using nickel and iron, which are cheap materials, we were able to make the electrocatalysts active enough to split water at room temperature with a single 1.5-volt battery," said Hongjie Dai, a professor of chemistry at Stanford. "This is the first time anyone has used non-precious metal catalysts to split water at a voltage that low. It's quite remarkable, because normally you need expensive metals, like platinum or iridium, to achieve that voltage."

In addition to producing hydrogen, the novel water splitter could be used to make chlorine gas and sodium hydroxide, another important industrial chemical, according to Dai. He and his colleagues describe the new device in a study published in the Aug. 22 issue of the journal Nature Communications.

The promise of hydrogen

Automakers have long considered the hydrogen fuel cell a promising alternative to the gasoline engine. Fuel cell technology is essentially water splitting in reverse. A fuel cell combines stored hydrogen gas with oxygen from the air to produce electricity, which powers the car. The only byproduct is water unlike gasoline combustion, which emits carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas.

Earlier this year, Hyundai began leasing fuel cell vehicles in Southern California. Toyota and Honda will begin selling fuel cell cars in 2015. Most of these vehicles will run on fuel manufactured at large industrial plants that produce hydrogen by combining very hot steam and natural gas, an energy-intensive process that releases carbon dioxide as a byproduct.

Splitting water to make hydrogen requires no fossil fuels and emits no greenhouse gases. But scientists have yet to develop an affordable, active water splitter with catalysts capable of working at industrial scales.

"It's been a constant pursuit for decades to make low-cost electrocatalysts with high activity and long durability," Dai said. "When we found out that a nickel-based catalyst is as effective as platinum, it came as a complete surprise."

Saving energy and money

The discovery was made by Stanford graduate student Ming Gong, co-lead author of the study. "Ming discovered a nickel-metal/nickel-oxide structure that turns out to be more active than pure nickel metal or pure nickel oxide alone," Dai said. "This novel structure favors hydrogen electrocatalysis, but we still don't fully understand the science behind it."

The nickel/nickel-oxide catalyst significantly lowers the voltage required to split water, which could eventually save hydrogen producers billions of dollars in electricity costs, according to Gong. His next goal is to improve the durability of the device.

"The electrodes are fairly stable, but they do slowly decay over time," he said. "The current device would probably run for days, but weeks or months would be preferable. That goal is achievable based on my most recent results."

The researchers also plan to develop a water splitter than runs on electricity produced by solar energy.

"Hydrogen is an ideal fuel for powering vehicles, buildings and storing renewable energy on the grid," said Dai. "We're very glad that we were able to make a catalyst that's very active and low cost. This shows that through nanoscale engineering of materials we can really make a difference in how we make fuels and consume energy."

A video describing the experiment is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nh_0cRYebYU


'/>"/>

Contact: Mark Shwartz
mshwartz@stanford.edu
650-723-9296
Stanford University
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Stanford professor finds that wildfires and other burns play bigger role in climate change
2. Stanford study shows how to power California with wind, water and sun
3. Stanford biologist warns of early stages of Earths 6th mass extinction event
4. Oil palm plantations threaten water quality, Stanford scientists say
5. Stanfords Precourt Institute partners with KQED on a new e-book series on energy
6. Net energy analysis should become a standard policy tool, Stanford scientists say
7. Stanford research shows importance of European farmers adapting to climate change
8. Stanford researchers rethink natural habitat for wildlife
9. Stanford biologists help solve fungal mysteries
10. Behind the scenes of the IPCC report, with Stanford scientists
11. Stanford professor maps by-catch as unintended consequence of global fisheries
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Stanford scientists develop a water splitter that runs on an ordinary AAA battery
(Date:1/26/2017)...  Crossmatch, a leading provider of security and identity ... combatting fraud, waste and abuse in assistance operations around ... on Disaster Relief conference in Panama City ... and foreign assistance organizations throughout Latin America ... a largely unacknowledged problem in the foreign assistance and ...
(Date:1/24/2017)... Jan. 24, 2017 Biopharm Reports has ... laboratory use of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR). ... and profiled current practices, developments, trends and end-user ... as growth and opportunities. These areas include growth ... instruments, needs and innovation requirements, hyphenated NMR techniques, ...
(Date:1/21/2017)... DUBLIN , Jan 20, 2017 Research ... Recognition Biometrics Market 2017-2021" report to their offering. ... The global voice recognition ... period 2017-2021. The report covers the present scenario ... for 2017-2021. To calculate the market size, the report considers the ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/24/2017)... ... February 24, 2017 , ... FireflySci, Inc is an explosive small business that ... the goal of bringing their powerful cuvette and spectrophotometer calibration to the ... FireflySci is going on as they add yet another mark on the global map. ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... NEW YORK , Feb. 23, 2017 /PRNewswire/ ... leading digital health company, and Digital Noema ... and remote patient monitoring, announce they are partnering ... DN Telehealth maximizes collaboration compatibility for ... consultations beyond a physical clinical setting to include ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... 2017  MIODx announced today that it has ... technologies from the University of California, San Francisco ... monitor a patient for response to immune checkpoint ... second license extends the technology with a method ... have an immune-related adverse event (IRAE) from their ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... ... February 23, 2017 , ... ... novo clearance to begin marketing the SPEAC® System, the Brain Sentinel® Seizure Monitoring ... home or in healthcare facilities during periods of rest. A lightweight, non-invasive monitor ...
Breaking Biology Technology: