In the fight against climate change, hydrogen is one beacon of hope. It can produce electricity by fuel cells and the only waste product is water. Efficient production of hydrogen from water through electrocatalysis represents a promising route to a clean and renewable energy carrier. To this end, numerous important reports have been made on the design of effective earth-abundant materials. Nevertheless, in comparison with Pt, much work remains necessary to decrease the overpotentials required to drive efficiently the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) with inexpensive electrocatalysts.
Now an alternative solution seems to come into reach. Together with an international group of researchers, scientists from IPE, CAS have built a catalyst for HER that works highly efficient which almost comparable with the well-known best catalyst Pt/C. Their strategy to achieve this goal is to provide experimental evidence of the predicted beneficial “microenvironment effect”, for the HER, which should result from the combination, in a 3D configuration, of high-quality reduced graphene oxide (rGO) nanosheets and a polyoxometalate [H7P8W48O184]33- (P8W48) possessing good proton and electron reservoir abilities. The novel P8W48/rGO nanoassembly features excellent HER electrocatalytic performance as evidenced by the sustained production of hydrogen with a faradic yield of ca. 100%. Importantly, exceptionally low overpotentials are required for the HER (e.g. 28 mV at 10 mA cm-2). The activity of P8W48/rGO is higher than those reported for the state-of-the-art precious metal-free electrocatalysts and compares well with that of the commercial Pt/Carbon (20 wt. % Pt).
See Energy Environ. Sci., 2016, 9, 1012--1023
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