Enhancing the Efficiency of Iridium-Based Catalysts for Green Hydrogen Production

by Santiago Fernandez
green hydrogen production

Researchers have made significant advancements in the development of iridium-based catalysts utilized in proton exchange membrane water electrolysis (PEMWE), a process that generates green hydrogen from renewable energy sources. The team has discovered a lattice-water-assisted mechanism that enhances the efficiency of an iridium oxide catalyst by 5-12%, resulting in increased energy output and reduced energy consumption.

The efficiency of iridium-based catalysts used in green hydrogen production has been improved by 5-12%, leading to a decrease in the required amount of iridium—an exceptionally rare element. This breakthrough makes the process more cost-effective and propels efforts towards achieving a carbon-neutral society.

The University of Adelaide’s experts have made significant progress in improving the efficiency of iridium-based catalysts, furthering the pursuit of utilizing intermittent renewable energy sources on a wider scale.

“Commercial iridium oxide catalysts currently face challenges in simultaneously achieving high activity and stability in proton exchange membrane water electrolysis (PEMWE),” explained Associate Professor Yao Zheng, ARC Future Fellow at the University of Adelaide’s School of Chemical Engineering.

“We have discovered that a lattice-water-assisted mechanism, which involves arranging water molecules in a specific pattern, enhances the efficiency of an iridium oxide catalyst by 5-12%. This results in higher energy output while reducing energy consumption.”

“PEMWE-based water splitting shows promise for green hydrogen generation. However, only iridium-based electrocatalysts can withstand the harsh acidic conditions that occur during the reaction.”

The use of renewable electricity is a highly appealing solution for green hydrogen production, particularly through the PEMWE technique, which allows for fast response and high current density. Hydrogen is widely regarded as the low-emission fuel of the future.

Iridium is an exceedingly rare element on Earth, primarily found in its uncombined form in sediments deposited by rivers. It is commercially obtained as a by-product of nickel refining, and only a thin layer of iridium exists in the Earth’s crust. South Africa serves as the largest producer of iridium.

“Considering the limited global output of iridium, it is crucial to decrease its usage in catalysts of this nature,” emphasized Associate Professor Zheng.

“The lattice-water-assisted oxygen exchange mechanism demonstrates the potential for higher efficiency and stability in proton exchange membrane water electrolyzers, enabling a reduction in the amount of iridium used and a more cost-efficient production of green hydrogen.”

“Our findings not only confirm the viability of using low-loading iridium-based anodic catalysts for PEMWE, but they also provide new insights into modifying the oxygen exchange mechanism for designing high-performance oxygen evolution reaction (OER) catalysts.”

“With more affordable green hydrogen, we can expedite the creation of a carbon-neutral society and effectively mitigate climate-related issues.”

The team’s research has been conducted at a fundamental level, and further studies are required to determine how to scale up the new synthesis. Their findings have been published in the journal Science Advances.

Reference: “IrOx·nH2O with lattice-water-assisted oxygen exchange for high performance proton exchange membrane water electrolyzer,” Science Advances, 23 June 2023, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.adh1718

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about green hydrogen production

What is the significance of iridium-based catalysts in green hydrogen production?

Iridium-based catalysts play a crucial role in green hydrogen production, specifically in proton exchange membrane water electrolysis (PEMWE). These catalysts enable the efficient generation of hydrogen from renewable energy sources, contributing to a sustainable and carbon-neutral future.

How have researchers enhanced the efficiency of iridium-based catalysts?

Researchers have discovered a lattice-water-assisted mechanism that improves the efficiency of iridium oxide catalysts by 5-12%. This mechanism optimizes the arrangement of water molecules, resulting in higher energy output and reduced energy consumption during the proton exchange membrane water electrolysis process.

What are the benefits of improving iridium-based catalyst efficiency?

Enhancing the efficiency of iridium-based catalysts brings several benefits. Firstly, it reduces the required amount of iridium, a rare element, making the process more cost-effective. Additionally, it enables the widespread use of intermittent renewable energy sources for green hydrogen production, thereby advancing efforts towards achieving a carbon-neutral society.

Why are iridium-based catalysts essential in PEMWE?

Iridium-based electrocatalysts are crucial in PEMWE due to their ability to withstand the harsh acidic conditions that occur during the water splitting process. These catalysts offer high activity and stability, making them ideal for efficient and reliable proton exchange membrane water electrolysis, a promising method for generating green hydrogen.

What is the potential impact of cheaper green hydrogen?

The availability of cheaper green hydrogen has significant implications. It paves the way for the rapid development of a carbon-neutral society by promoting the widespread adoption of hydrogen as a low-emission fuel. Additionally, it contributes to the mitigation of climate-related issues by reducing reliance on fossil fuels and supporting sustainable energy systems.

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cleantechlover June 23, 2023 - 7:34 pm

Iridium-based catalysts rock! They make green hydrogen prod possible. More energy, less energy consume. We need this for carbon-neutral society! Let’s make it happen ASAP! #CleanEnergy #GreenHydrogen #IridiumCatalysts

renewablefanatic June 23, 2023 - 8:51 pm

#GoRenewable! this research on iridium catalysts is lit! they found a way to improve efficiency in green hydrogen prod. that means cheaper hydrogen, more renewable energy, and less climate problems. bring it on! we need all the clean energy we can get!

sciencegeek123 June 24, 2023 - 1:25 am

iridium catalysts FTW! they’re like superheroes in proton exchange membrane water electrolysis. they can handle harsh conditions & produce more hydrogen. reducing iridium usage is key, it’s a rare element. this research is groundbreaking! can’t wait for more updates!

hydrogen4all June 24, 2023 - 2:02 pm

iridium-based catalysts rly imp for green hydrogen prod! they’re boosting efficiency, reducing energy consume & making it cost-effective. this means more hydrogen & less cost. awesome work by the researchers! we’re 1 step closer to carbon-neutral world!

GreenEnergyEnthusiast June 24, 2023 - 4:16 pm

wow, this article is super cool! researchers are making progress in enhancing iridium catalysts for green hydrogen production. that’s amazing news! we need more efficient and cost-effective ways to produce clean energy! can’t wait to see these advancements in action!


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