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Water oxidation and clean energy carriers, one step closer

Some 200 years ago, Elizabeth Fulhame, a Scottish chemist, came across the power of catalysts – a material that speeds up a chemical reaction without being consumed during the process. In our day, Stockholm university chemists have been part of a large multinational consortium developing a new hybrid material (metal-hydroxide-organic frameworks, MHOFs) that can use the process of catalysis to speed up the oxygen evolution reaction (OER). This work has just been published in Nature Materials.

The material can catalyse oxygen evolution reaction (OER).   a limiting reaction in the process of generating molecular oxygen through chemical reaction, such as electrolysis of water into oxygen and hydrogen. This reaction is key to make energy carriers such as hydrogen, hydrocarbons, ammonia. 

The MHOF platform is synthesized with tunable metal and organic species, this can be used to understand catalyzing in other important reactions of relevance to sustainable energy production. 

The new materials show unprecedented tunability compared to conventional inorganic or organic catalysts. This shakes our way in thinking about how to discover efficient and stable catalysts. It provides the research community with a tuneable platform that can be used to further develop and tailor catalysts for sustainable energy applications, says Dr Zhehao Huang a member of the consortium from Stockholm University.


Sustainable energy storage and conversion – one of the keys to a more sustainable future

The work impacts fundamentals in technologies for sustainable energy storage and conversion – one of the keys to a more sustainable future. The MOHFs can be used for splitting water a way of  producing CO2 neutral energy carriers, and catalysing reactions to reduce CO2. All this contributes to build more efficient and sustainable systems, especially in the clean energy field.

“The new material can improve the efficiency for electrolysis of water into oxygen and hydrogen, which is considered as a promising solution to produce sustainable energy carriers without emitting greenhouse gases” explains Dr Zhehao Huang of Stockholm University.
“You could even say they are the key to many sustainable technologies” he continues.


Collaboration is key

The scientists formed a big consortium to face and tackle the big challenges in this project. Not only did the consortium work on the material development, it was also crucial to understand the crystal structure of the new materials in relation to their unique properties.
Here the researchers had great use of the Electron Microscopy Center (EMC) at Stockholm university.  


Supported by VR and KAW

This work is supported by the Swedish Research Council (VR) and the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation (KAW)

Link to full article, Tunable metal hydroxide–organic frameworks for catalysing oxygen evolution

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