By Nick Gilbert
A condition that enables fast creation of hydrogen with enhanced efficiency has been discovered by researchers from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. This new condition will require the speed-efficiency tradeoff to be overcome by the liquid environment and the catalyst that produces hydrogen.
The results of this research published in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences focus on developing improved materials for producing energy. Molecular details discussing the conversion of electrical energy by catalytic material into chemical bonds between hydrogen atoms are also part of the results. These details from the results will enable researchers to build efficient and fast catalysts that are formed with metal nickel and not platinum.
The team of chemists from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory modeled the dissolvable catalyst after hydrogenase, which is a protein. The center of the catalyst was modeled after the significant parts of hydrogenase and a chemical scaffold was built around the catalyst.
The ionic liquid, a drop of water and the catalyst were mixed together by the researchers. Hydrogen molecules were produced by the catalyst using electrical current and ionic liquid. The speedy catalyst remained as efficient when hydrogen was cranked and when electrons occurred from the current into chemical bonds of hydrogen. Based on this the team thought that it could be possible to improve the speed and efficiency of the catalyst.
Besides improving the speed and efficiency of the catalyst the team also wanted to analyze the working of the catalyst in its liquid salt environment. Based on the speed of hydrogen production it was discovered that electrons were moved around faster by the catalyst. The other tests that were conducted explained the working of the catalyst-ionic liquid set-up.
The team has decided to shift its next focus on analyzing reasons for the fast movement of the ionic liquid-water mixture. The catalyst will also be attached to a surface, and hydrogen gas will be produced in the final stage. The team also plans to analyze ionic liquids capable of enabling a catalyst to carry the hydrogen molecule apart.