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Researchers demonstrate new nickel selenide catalyst for more efficient water splitting

19 December 2016

A team of researchers from Missouri University of Science and Technology and National and Kapodistrian University of Athens in Greece have developed a highly efficient transition metal selenide-based coordination complex, [Ni{(SePiPr2)2N}2] for oxygen evolution and hydrogen evolution reactions (OER and HER, respectively) in alkaline solution.

In a paper published in ChemSusChem describing their work, the researchers reported that very low overpotentials of 200 mV and 310 mV were required to achieve 10 mA cm−2 for OER and HER, respectively. The overpotential for OER is one of the lowest that has been reported up to now, making this one of the best OER electrocatalysts. In addition, this molecular complex exhibits an exceptionally high mass activity (111.02 A g−1) and a much higher turnover frequency (TOF) value (0.26 s−1) at a overpotential of 300 mV. The bifunctional electrocatalyst enables water electrolysis in alkaline solutions at a cell voltage of 1.54 V.

The water-splitting reaction can be divided into two half reactions: the oxygen evolution reaction (OER) and the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER), among which the OER reaction is energetically more challenging and forms a major roadblock for developing these technologies. Many catalysts have been employed to expedite the reaction rate and lower the overpotential towards HER and OER. However, a huge constraint for large scale hydrogen and oxygen production is the stability of electrodes at the usually high overpotentials applied for OER and HER. Hence, a catalyst that can drive both the HER and OER with high exchange current density at low overpotential is highly desirable for the fabrication of efficient energy-harvesting devices.

—Masud et al.

Most methods for producing hydrogen and oxygen from water require large amounts of energy and are cost-prohibitive. In addition, the best catalysts to obtain hydrogen from water require the use of expensive precious metals, such as platinum, and are therefore not competitive with current approaches to energy production. But the research by Dr. Manashi Nath, associate professor of chemistry at Missouri S&T, and her colleagues show that an electrocatalyst containing nickel and selenium is able to produce hydrogen and oxygen from water in a more efficient, less expensive manner than other methods.

Our work shows that it is possible to obtain a full water splitting with high production efficiency and stability with a simple and affordable catalyst containing nickel and selenium. The novelty of this work is twofold. First, nickel is the main catalytic center which is known to be earth abundant, and second, that same catalyst can be used for both hydrogen and oxygen generation, which dramatically reduces complexity and cost of the device. Very few reports are available where the same catalyst can be used for both of oxygen and hydrogen production.

—Dr. Manashi Nath

Nath’s co-authors on the journal article are Dr. Jahangir Masud, a post-doctoral researcher at Missouri S&T, and collaborator Dr. Panayotis Kyritsis and his group members Dr. Polydoros-Chrysovalantis Ioannou and Dr. Nikolaos Levesanos, all from National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece.


  • J. Masud, P.-C. Ioannou, N. Levesanos, P. Kyritsis, M. Nath (2016) “A Molecular Ni-complex Containing Tetrahedral Nickel Selenide Core as Highly Efficient Electrocatalyst for Water Oxidation” ChemSusChem 9, 3128 doi: 10.1002/cssc.201601054

December 19, 2016 in Catalysts, Hydrogen Production | Permalink | Comments (14)


In addition to cheap electrolysis I have just picked up on this method which will allow hydrogen to be generated from heavy oils using a catalyst and microwaves:
' A Saudi-British research team from the Excellence Center of King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) and Oxford University for joint petrochemicals research has discovered a new fast and safe way to convert heavy petroleum hydrocarbons to hydrogen gas in large quantities and at high speed using a catalyst to create a chemical reaction using a developed microwave reactor.' it appears that:
'Co-author Professor Sir John Meurig Thomas, from the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy at the University of Cambridge, said the work could be extended so that many of the liquid components of refined petroleum and inexpensive solid catalysts can pave the way for the generation of massive quantities of high-purity hydrogen for other commercial uses, including CO2-free energy production.
Professor Edwards added: 'Instead of burning fossil fuels, leading to CO2, we use them to generate hydrogen, which with fuel cells produces electric power and pure water. This is the future – transportation without CO2 and hot air.'

So there would seem to be no reasonable grounds to doubt that the funds will be available to roll out hydrogen infrastructure so that the Saudi economy can continue to export.

Progress on hydrogen and fuel cells has been astonishing, and certainly far faster than I ever expected.

Solar is now starting to reach cost levels where hydrogen and electrolysis will be compelling using it:

Add perovskites to that and the trend is clear.

Hydrogen storage can make that available year round even at high latitudes.

The problem with that is COMMERCIALISATION . Why aren't they selling my cheap synthetic gasoline in my area at a lower cost than actual gas. They make a patent but sell it to someone else that want to protect his crooked old faschion market and also they prefer to grab subsidies instead for future unnessary research. It's been more than 15 years that they are able to produce synthetic fuels but instead worked at high salary 15 more years subsidized by state because almost no producers want a fuel price war. These politicians giving subsidies for research are really a bunch of criminals.

Cool, lets see how it progresses.
We now need a way to turn the H2 into some substance we can easily store and transport and utilise in some kind of engine or generator.

H2 with power plant CO2 makes synthetic fuels, easy to store and use. Reuse CO2 to reduce emissions.

Hi mahonj.

Waxes can store hydrogen:

And of course hydrogen can be used as is in generators, but it is more efficient in fuel cells.

If near future, lower cost, higher performance electrolysers can produce clean H2 at $3.50 /Kg or less, clean power generation FCs and clean running FCEVs will favorably compete against batteries and BEVs.

Clean H2 stations running on low cost regular and/or excess REs could run Oil, Coal and NG progressively out of business and reduce GHG and pollution.

Seems to me if you have a situation where you have surplus electricity created by renewables and no other way to store the energy, creating hydrogen by splitting water and storing it in tanks would work. otherwise, creating electrons for storage in a battery from solar is the more direct and efficient way to use energy.

If fossil fuels are used as the feed stock...pollution and/or GHG as byproducts are always present.

One thing you could do with excess H2 would be to crack long chain hydrocarbons into shorter (6-10 carbon) chains, which would be a useful fuel. A bit carboney, but still better than waxes or bunker fuel. Get as much hydrogen into the fuel and still keep it a liquid.


Waxes might not be the thing for cars, but could be used as storage in tankers etc.

Or ammonia might be used.

If you turn H2 into liquid fuels, you can reform on vehicle for fuel cells with no combustion pollution. Since we have the pipelines, storage tanks and distribution 200 million cars would not have to use as much fossil fuel.

Propane is the highest hydrogen containing fuel that can be conveniently stored at seasonable pressures, and ethane can be stored as liquid where temperatures do not get too high. ..HG..

Methyl alcohol is a liquid that can be created from natural gas methane or bio-methane, but a simple economical method of doing so has not been found or published. Methanol has been easily converted into a form of gasoline. Methanol also has been used as food to grow organisms that were intended as cattle feed by the former ICL and a hint that methane was also used to grow pet food organisms by a Norwegian gas company was once available on the Internet.

It is likely that an organism that produced n-butanol can be discovered that uses natural gas or a derivative as a food source.

Methanol can be converted to to di-methyl ether, DME, which can be stored and used for similar uses as propane, but is one of the very best fuels for diesel engines.

Compressed natural gas or bio-methane can be used by highway trucks in high pressure tanks. If highly insulated these tanks can be filled with very cold methane liquid. Methane gas is now being fumigated into the intake air of diesel engines which also use a small amount of injected diesel or DME to ignite the highly compressed methane air mix. ..HG..

Finally the present engines and fuel systems can be used in all road vehicles with a savings of up to half the fuel or more by the use of ARTEMIS electronic hydraulic fuel systems or something similar as the transmission. Such transmissions can even be retrofitted for heavy vehicles even and no automobile should be allowed to be built without one. They are cheaper and more efficient than electric hybrids.

For clean air and efficient transmission the Wrightspeed turbine combo is already being produced and sold for delivery vehicles and buses. ..HG..

ZEBRA or Sodium Sulphur batteries are more efficient than any possible hydrogen production method of storing electricity. The Zebra battery automobile can be used for any local automotive use and should also be used in each home or business as the BATTERY wall and will last longer than any furnace. Common lights can be used directly from battery terminals including CFL, LED and tungsten as can many heaters. Converters have long been available for any other uses. Many computer and phone chargers will work already and some can be simply modified. no complicated expensive hydrogen systems needed. ..HG..

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