Multi-Electron Redox Catalysts for Cost-Effective Production of Hydrogen as an Alternative Fuel

Technology #13906

Organometallic Catalysts Oxidize Water to Produce Hydrogen Cheaply and Renewably

These multi-electron redox catalysts may facilitate a cost-effective oxidation of water to produce hydrogen as an alternative fuel source. Hydrogen is attractive as a fuel source, especially for vehicles, because it is clean and renewable. However, a large barrier to its use as an alternative fuel source is the high cost of producing renewable, clean hydrogen. Currently, most of the hydrogen produced in the United States comes from natural gas, the cheapest source. Ecofriendly methods such as electrolysis from water and photochemical water splitting cost too much for widespread use. The United States has spent billions of dollars on efforts to improve hydrogen production and isolation techniques. Researchers at the University of Florida have developed an organometallic catalyst that may hasten and initiate the electrochemical and photochemical production of water, potentially lowering costs and removing a barrier to widespread hydrogen production. Because hydrogen has the potential to power many types of devices, the possible market applications for this inexpensive catalyst are extensive.

Application

Catalysts that may produce hydrogen via water splitting as a renewable energy source

Advantages

  • Utilizes common resources such as water and metal ions, increasing the probability that a renewable supply of hydrogen is available to meet increasing energy demands
  • Lowers the cost and increases the speed for producing hydrogen, removing a barrier to widespread adoption
  • Helps produce hydrogen via a “green” method, safeguarding the environment from damaging pollutants

Technology

These redox catalysts are composed of large organic scaffolds that support several metal centers, arranged around a central cavity. These metals provide a confined site in which redox reactions involving water are able to occur. This means that the large organometallic catalyst provides an initiation site for the oxidation of water, to produce hydrogen. It also provides a site for the reduction of hydrogen, to produce water and electricity. This catalysis speeds the electrochemical process, providing a more efficient production of hydrogen, or a more efficient fuel cell.