Indian scientists design electrocatalyst system for energy efficient hydrogen production

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New Delhi, March 10

Indian scientists have designed an electrocatalyst system for energy-efficient hydrogen production with the help of electrolysis of urea, which is helpful towards urea-based waste treatment with low-cost hydrogen production, an official statement said on Wednesday.

The energy requirement for production of hydrogen through water electrolysis can be reduced by 70 per cent through urea electrolysis. The energy-intensive counterpart of water splitting, oxygen evolution, can be replaced with urea oxidation in urea electrolysis. Low-cost, earth-abundant Ni-based catalysts are widely applied for this process.

"The main challenge associated with urea oxidation is retaining the prolonged activity of the catalyst as the strong adsorption of the reactive intermediate (COx) on the active site, referred to as catalyst poisoning, causes activity loss," the Science and Technology Ministry statement said.

Towards this end, Alex C., Gaurav Shukla, Muhammed Safeer N.K., and Neena S. John from the Centre for Nano and Soft Matter Sciences (CeNS), an autonomous institute of the Department of Science & Technology developed this Nickel oxide (NiOx) based system for producing hydrogen from electro-oxidation of urea.

In the series of research works published in the journals Electrochimica Acta and Journal of Materials Chemistry', the scientists have explored electrocatalysts and shown that surface defective NiO and Ni2O3 systems having more Ni3+ ions are more efficient electrocatalysts than conventional NiO.

"The urea electrolysis is helpful towards urea-based waste treatment with low-cost hydrogen production. India is one of the top countries by urea production, and it produced 244.55 lakh metric tonnes of urea during 2019-20. The nitrogenous fertiliser industries generate a high concentration of ammonia and urea as effluents. This can be utilized for energy production towards our country's benefits," the scientists claimed.


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