Accelerate Hydrogen production with water and sunlight

Chemists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have developed a unique approach to harnessing the sun's energy to produce hydrogen gas as clean energy from water.

Led by Professor Alexander Miller, the study published in Nature chemistry with the title ““Catalyst self-assembly accelerates electrocatalytic evolution of H2 driven by bimetallic light in water”, investigates a system that uses light and electricity to split water into its constituent elements: hydrogen and oxygen.

The researchers discovered that the molecular structures caused catalysts (molecules that speed up a chemical reaction without being consumed in the process) to clump together to form micelles, which are globules similar to oily deposits on the surface of water when olive oil is added.

Hydrogen production as a clean and sustainable fuel

Water splitting is a key process in renewable energy technologies, particularly in the production of hydrogen as a clean and sustainable fuel. Hydrogen obtained from water can be used for fuel cells, combustion engines and other applications, with the only byproduct being water vapor.

"Water splitting has the potential to store solar energy in the form of chemical bonds, addressing the intermittent nature of solar power generationMiller said in a statement. “Research into efficient and cost-effective methods for dividing the water It is an important area of ​​interest in the field of renewable energy and sustainable development."

The researchers also used a special technique called dynamic light scattering, also known as photon correlation spectroscopy, to measure the size of the catalysts by analyzing fluctuations in the intensity of the scattered light. This non-invasive technique provided valuable information on the size, shape and distribution of the catalysts.

Larger micelles achieved faster hydrogen production. They also used an analytical tool called nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, which confirmed that within those particles, the catalysts were close to each other.

"We want to capture the energy of sunlight and instead of converting it into electricity, like a solar panel on the roof, we want to generate a fuel that we can store and use as needed to drive a car, charge a battery, turn on the lightsMiller said.

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