Oxis Energy to supply Li-S batteries to luxury yacht project
DHL piloting 4 BYD electric Class 8 trucks in LA

S. Korean team develops highly efficient, long-lasting electrocatalyst to boost electrolytic hydrogen production

Conventional water electrolysis for the production of hydrogen faces technological challenges to improve the efficiency of the water-splitting reaction for the sluggish oxygen evolution reaction (OER). Noble metal-based ruthenium oxide (RuO2) and iridium oxide (IrO2) are used to enhance the oxygen generation rate. However, these noble metal catalysts are very expensive and show poor stability under long-term operation.

Now, researchers led by Associate Director LEE Hyoyoung of the Center for Integrated Nanostructure Physics within the Institute for Basic Science (IBS) located at Sungkyunkwan University, S. Korea, have developed a highly efficient and long-lasting electrocatalyst for water oxidation using cobalt, iron, and a minimal amount of ruthenium. An open-access paper on their work is published in the RSC journal Energy & Environmental Science.


Crystal structure of surface oxygen-rich metal alloy (top left). Oxygen and hydrogen are generated during a water electrolysis reaction (top right). The designed catalyst exhibits the best oxygen evolution activity with minimal overpotential (bottom panels). Credit IBS

We used amphiphilic block copolymers to control electrostatic attraction in our single ruthenium (Ru) atom-bimetallic alloy. The copolymers facilitate the synthesis of spherical clusters of hydrocarbon molecules whose soluble and insoluble segments form the core and shell. In this study, their tendency for a unique chemical structure allows the synthesis of the “high-performance” single atomic Ru alloy present atop the stable cobalt iron (Co-Fe) metallic composite surrounded by porous, defective and graphitic carbon shell.

—LEE Jinsun and Kumar Ashwani, the co-first authors of the study

We were very excited to discover that pre-adsorbed surface oxygen on the Co-Fe alloy surface, absorbed during the synthesis process, stabilizes one of the important intermediates (OOH*) during the oxygen generation reaction, boosting the overall efficiency of the catalytic reaction. The pre-absorbed surface oxygen has been of little interest until our finding.

—Associate Director Lee, the corresponding author

The researchers found that four hour-annealing at 750 °C in an argon atmosphere is the best appropriate condition for the oxygen generating process. In addition to the reaction-friendly environment on the host metal surface, the single Ru atom, where oxygen generation takes place, also fulfills its role by lowering the energy barrier, synergistically enhancing the efficiency of oxygen evolution.

The research team evaluated the catalytic efficiency with the overvoltage metrics needed for the oxygen evolution reaction. The advanced noble electrocatalyst required only 180 mV (millivolt) overvoltage to attain a current density of 10 mA (milliampere) per cm2 of catalyst, while ruthenium oxide needed 298 mV. In addition, the single Ru atom-bimetallic alloy showed long-term stability for 100 hours without any change of structure.

Furthermore, the cobalt and iron alloy with graphitic carbon also compensated electrical conductivity and enhanced the oxygen evolution rate.

This study takes us a step closer to a carbon-free, and green hydrogen economy. This highly efficient and inexpensive oxygen generation electro-catalyst will help us overcome long-term challenges of the fossil fuel refining process: to produce high-purity hydrogen for commercial applications at a low price and in an eco-friendly manner.

—Associate Director Lee


  • Jinsun Lee, Ashwani Kumar, Taehun Yang, Xinghui Liu, Amol R. Jadhav, G. Hwan Park, Yosep Hwang, Jianmin Yu, Thi Kim Chau Nguyen, Yang Liu, Sara Ajmal, Min Gyu Kim and Hyoyoung Lee (2020) “Stabilizing OOH* intermediate via pre-adsorbed surface oxygen of single Ru atom-bimetallic alloy for ultralow overpotential oxygen generation” Energy Environ. Sci. doi: 10.1039/D0EE03183F



The progress in hydrogen and fuel cells is way, way faster than that of batteries.


There are two general ways to use hydrogen; directly as a fuel source in ICEs and in fuel cells to generate electricity to drive electric motors.
The downside when used in ICEs is the efficiency at best is about 25% and it produces NOX. The upside it does not produce CO2, only water.
When used as a compressed gas in a fuel cell the only residue is water; however, the efficiency is still less than 55% and it is expensive to produce and transport to the user. Currently it is produced from natural gas that is reformed, using great amounts of steam and heat; then it must be mechanically compressed to as high as 10,000 psi. This adds greatly to the cost and danger of usage.
Nevertheless, H2 fuel cells makes sense in applications where gross pollution can be offset, i.e., in jet engines and the huge diesel engines used in sea ships.



Desperate stuff when you have to resort to complete fabrications to support your prejudices.

'The downside when used in ICEs is the efficiency at best is about 25%'

On what basis? Are you talking about well to wheels or something.

A modern ICE engine is around 40% efficient tank to wheels, and electricity has extensive losses before it gets into the battery.

'When used as a compressed gas in a fuel cell the only residue is water; however, the efficiency is still less than 55% '

The Nexo is around 60% efficient, Hyundai say. Care to show exactly where they have got their figures wrong?

' Currently it is produced from natural gas that is reformed'

Except when it isn't. For instance in 33% of hydrogen for transport in California, and all of it in places like Norway and New Zealand.

'it must be mechanically compressed to as high as 10,000 psi.'

From as long ago as 2014:

'At the heart of the hydrogen fueling system is the 900-bar Linde IC 90 ionic compressor: '

Why are you posting a pack of nonsense and misstatements?

Is it through ignorance or malice?

Do get over your one-eyed obsession with batteries.

You are behaving like a religious bigot.


One of the fantastic things about batteries is regenerative braking. Hard to imagine how you do that with H2 and no battery side storage.



PHEVs, hybrids, mild hybrids and FCEVs all have regenerative braking, not just BEVs.

All FCEVs have batteries either lithium or NiCad to assist when a lot of power is needed for acceleration, which also work fine for regen.

Mild hybrids use batteries or capacitors for the same purpose.

A thumping great 50-100Kwh battery is not needed for the purpose.

The ~1Kwh pack in a hybrid or an FCEV works fine for the purpose, and even a mild hybrid with its still smaller battery can work fine.

Why are you attempting to critique technologies when you clearly have not take the trouble to find out how they work?


Congratulations south korea for leading the path on new hydrogen economy post Covid 19.The path ahead is decarbunised sustainable world order one sun one grid and one energy re routing utilisation through Hydrogen
Best wishes


@ Lad:
Dave states quite correctly that a battery is unbearable for a functional FC. It can however, in such a configuration, be dimensioned much smaller than in a conventional BEV.
What he doesn't state is that presently every car owner is at the mercy of the OPEG countries and big oil; these vampires (monopolists) suck as much "blood" as they possibly can.
A H2 infrastructure has much in common with the present fossil infrastructures. It is reasonably easy for big oil to switch from one to the other and keep their cash cows in their own pasture. They could care less about the OPEG countries. The push for H2 is mainly driven from big oil and their proponents. I've never worked for big oil so I personally care less.
A BEV virtually grants everyone the freedom of self-sufficiency. If you can call your home your own, just install a PV-system on your roof top and make yourself independent of all parasites.
Only those profiting directly or indirectly from big oil are interested in their future success however that may be maintained.

Roger Pham

Just replace Natural Gas and Petroleum with Green Hydrogen and the decarbonization process is done. We can use existing Natural Gas pipeline system to transport Hydrogen, thus making it cheap for the conversion process from FF to Green Energy. Until we will have enough of Green Hydrogen, we can use Blue Hydrogen to supplement Green Hydrogen.
Of course, Big Oil will wanna sell more oil and natural gas before jumping into Hydrogen, but countries without oil and gas reserves, like in Europe and Asia, can start with the conversion to Green and Blue Hydrogen first, then the rest of the world will follow in due time.
No need to make it any more complicated. No need to pit Battery against Hydrogen. No need to pit everyone against Big Oil, Big Battery, or Big Whatever. No need to create new adversaries nor new enemies. We will need to work together for a common future, and we will need the cooperation of everyone.


The either/or view can be misleading, each for its own application.


@ Roger Pham:
The production of H2 via electrolysis with green electric power is a disgustingly inefficient procedure and a pure waste of valuable green energy. However, a method for production of H2, as described in the following link, would be to my liking.
I consider green energy as a somewhat limited resource and it should be used sensibly and not thoughtlessly wasted.


Another day, another academic article on a new catalyst. Very few of these studies result in something that turns in to a real product but, in the long term, they add to overall knowledge and, at worse, provide an educational experience for some grad students.

Even if the catalyst was perfect in every way, it still takes a basic amount of energy to break the hydrogen oxygen bonds. You will never reach the efficiency of battery storage or the use of pumped hydro if the resources are available.

Roger Pham

@yoatmon and @sd,
You guys have missed the main point of the article which is the very high efficiency of electrolysis. Existing electrolysis is already 80%-85% efficient by HHV (Higher Heating Value) of Hydrogen. With even higher-efficiency electrode as detailed in this article, higher efficiency is now attained, which could be well over 90% efficiency of electrolysis. This matches the efficiency of battery electricity e-storage.
Quoting from above: "The advanced noble electrocatalyst required only 180 mV (millivolt) overvoltage to attain a current density of 10 mA (milliampere) per cm2 of catalyst, while ruthenium oxide needed 298 mV. In addition, the single Ru atom-bimetallic alloy showed long-term stability for 100 hours without any change of structure."

Green Solar and Wind energy is wasted everyday on vast empty fields and parking lots. If these wasted Solar and Wind (S&W) energy is captured to produce H2 to replace Fossil Fuel, then we will easily control Global Warming without complicated efforts. It only takes about 2% to 5% of total land surface area to capture enough solar energy to satisfy ALL energy requirement for the USA. There is NO shortage of land area, and there is NO shortage of solar PV materials.

Please note that H2 is NOT anti battery. Those who favor battery can continue to use battery, but the bulk replacement of NG, Coal, and Petroleum by using Green Hydrogen will be needed to really control Global Warming.


@ Roger Pham:
H2 is the top notch escape artist among all elements. The only viable means to prevent H2 from escaping is to retain it within a graphene lining. The distance between the carbon atoms is too small to allow H2 penetration. Also, the bonding strength of the carbon atoms within graphene is far higher than that of the best steel products. IOW, graphene is the only known material that can safely secure H2 without any losses; H2 is extremely flammable and hence, dangerous.. The storage pressure within a graphene confinement is, for all tends and purposes, nigh to irrelevant but not so within any other material. Nothing other than graphene can prevent H2 from diffusion; the higher the pressure the faster H2 will diffuse.
I, personally, am not confronted with any problems resulting from H2; not technically nor socially or politically.
Until all those problems pertinent to H2 are satisfactorily solved it's best to leave hands off of the subject matter.

Roger Pham

Please Google: "Repurposing gas infrastructure for hydrogen"
As of 2019, 70 million tons of hydrogen is consumed yearly in industrial processing. Pipeline in Germany made from regular pipeline steel since 1938 has been transporting H2 at up to 200 bar pressure, and is still functioning.
Handling of H2 is not an issue with current technology.


Of course Roger, everyone is convinced of what they believe and the German Diesels were the best in the world because they were "so low" on emissions.

The comments to this entry are closed.