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Research Highlight | Center for Nanoscale Materials

Earth-abundant catalyst lowers cost for producing clean hydrogen by electrolysis with water

In a Science paper, researchers report developing a cobalt-based catalyst to replace the expensive iridium-based catalyst used in electrolyzers for hydrogen and oxygen separation from water.

Scientific Achievement

A nanofibrous cobalt spinel catalyst doped with La and Mn was developed to replace the expensive iridium-based catalyst presently used for oxygen evolution in water with proton exchange membrane electrolyzers. Such electrolyzers could run with renewable, intermittent energy, such as solar and wind.

Significance and Impact

An electrolyzer with this anode catalyst could produce clean, lower cost hydrogen for use in powering vehicles with fuel cells and as a chemical in industrial processes, such as steel making and ammonia production.

Research Details

  • A test electrolyzer with the anode catalyst achieved 2000 mA/cm2 at 2.47 V and exhibited low degradation.
  • Electron microscopy of the atomic structure on the catalyst at various stages of preparation was conducted at CNM.

DOI: 10.1126/science.ade1499

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About Argonne’s Center for Nanoscale Materials
The Center for Nanoscale Materials is one of the five DOE Nanoscale Science Research Centers, premier national user facilities for interdisciplinary research at the nanoscale supported by the DOE Office of Science. Together the NSRCs comprise a suite of complementary facilities that provide researchers with state-of-the-art capabilities to fabricate, process, characterize and model nanoscale materials, and constitute the largest infrastructure investment of the National Nanotechnology Initiative. The NSRCs are located at DOE’s Argonne, Brookhaven, Lawrence Berkeley, Oak Ridge, Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories. For more information about the DOE NSRCs, please visit https://​sci​ence​.osti​.gov/​U​s​e​r​-​F​a​c​i​l​i​t​i​e​s​/​U​s​e​r​-​F​a​c​i​l​i​t​i​e​s​-​a​t​-​a​-​G​lance.

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