New steady water-splitting catalyst doesn’t require costly iridium


Researchers have developed a nickel-stabilized, ruthenium dioxide (Ni-RuO2) anode catalyst for proton trade membrane (PEM) water electrolysis. The ruthenium—a extra plentiful valuable steel—serves as a promising various to the extra uncommon and costly iridium—presently the sensible anode catalyst for electrolysis.

The Ni-RuO2 catalyst reveals excessive exercise and sturdiness in acidic OER for PEM water electrolysis. Though pristine RuO2 reveals poor acidic OER stability and degradesd inside a brief interval of steady operation, the incorporation of Ni enormously stabilizes the RuO2 lattice and extends its sturdiness by multiple order of magnitude.

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A schematic reveals the experimental water electrolyzer developed at Rice to make use of a nickel-doped ruthenium catalyst. Illustration by Zhen-Yu Wu

A paper on the work by the lab of chemical and biomolecular engineer Haotian Wang at Rice’s George R. Brown College of Engineering and colleagues on the College of Pittsburgh and the College of Virginia is revealed in Nature Supplies.

When utilized to the anode of a PEM water electrolyser, our Ni-RuO2 catalyst demonstrated >1,000 h stability below a water-splitting present of 200 mA cm−2, suggesting potential for sensible purposes. Density purposeful concept research, coupled with operando differential electrochemical mass spectroscopy evaluation, confirmed the adsorbate-evolving mechanism on Ni-RuO2, in addition to the essential function of Ni dopants in stabilization of floor Ru and subsurface oxygen for improved OER sturdiness.

—Wu et al.

Iridium prices roughly eight instances greater than ruthenium, Wang stated, and it may account for 20% to 40% of the expense in business gadget manufacturing, particularly in future large-scale deployments.

Water splitting entails the oxygen and hydrogen evolution reactions by which polarized catalysts rearrange water molecules to launch oxygen and hydrogen.

The cathode could be very steady and never a giant drawback, however the anode is extra vulnerable to corrosion when utilizing an acidic electrolyte. Generally used transition metals like manganese, iron, nickel and cobalt get oxidized and dissolve into the electrolyte. That’s why the one sensible materials utilized in business proton trade membrane water electrolyzers is iridium. It’s steady for tens of 1000’s of hours, nevertheless it’s very costly.

—Feng-Yang Chen

The lab is working to enhance its ruthenium catalyst to fit into present industrial processes.

Now that we’ve reached this stability milestone, our problem is to extend the present density by at the least 5 to 10 instances whereas nonetheless sustaining this sort of stability. That is very difficult, however nonetheless attainable.

The annual manufacturing of iridium gained’t assist us to supply the quantity of hydrogen we want at present. Even utilizing all of the iridium globally produced will merely not generate the quantity of hydrogen we are going to want if we would like it to be produced through water electrolysis. Which means we are able to’t totally depend on iridium. We now have to develop new catalysts to both cut back its use or get rid of it from the method solely.

—Haotian Wang

Boyang Li of the College of Pittsburgh is co-lead creator of the paper. Co-authors are Rice graduate scholar Peng Zhu; graduate scholar Shen-Wei Yu at Virginia; physicist Zou Finfrock at Argonne Nationwide Laboratory; scientist Debora Motta Meira of Argonne and Canadian Gentle Supply; Virginia alumnus Zhouyang Yin; and Qiang-Qiang Yan, Ming-Xi Chen, Tian-Wei Music and Hai-Wei Liang of the College of Science and Expertise of China, Hefei. Co-corresponding authors are Sen Zhang, an affiliate professor of chemistry at Virginia, and Guofeng Wang, a professor of mechanical and supplies science at Pittsburgh. Haotian Wang is the William Marsh Trustee Chair at Rice and an assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering.

The analysis was supported by the Welch Basis (C-2051-20200401), the David and Lucile Packard Basis (2020–71371), a Roy E. Campbell College Growth Award, the Nationwide Science Basis (1905572, 2004808), the College of Pittsburgh Heart for Analysis Computing and the Superior Photon Supply of Argonne Nationwide Laboratory.


  • Wu, ZY., Chen, FY., Li, B. et al. (2022) “Non-iridium-based electrocatalyst for sturdy acidic oxygen evolution response in proton trade membrane water electrolysis.” Nat. Mater. doi: 10.1038/s41563-022-01380-5


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