Fuel cells generate electrical energy through a chemical reaction of hydrogen and oxygen. To obtain clean energy, the splitting of water into its components of hydrogen and oxygen is critical. Researchers at the University of Basel study how sunlight can be used for this purpose. The scientific journal Chemical Communications published their latest results.
Developing clean and renewable sources of energy is one of the greatest challenges of our civilization. Artificial photosynthesis is one of the most promising approaches. This is when water is photo-electrochemically with the aid of sunlight separated into its components H₂ and O₂ and stored.
When the chemical elements are later combined, electrical energy can be created. A team of researchers led by the University of Basel chemists Catherine Housecroft and Edwin Constable are working together with the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (Empa) to implement this method.
Sustainable fuel cells
The process of splitting water (H₂O) consists of two partial reactions, which are implemented with the help of different catalysts: water oxidation (which produces O₂) and water reduction (which produces H₂). The first is the more challenging of the two reactions, which is why research puts so much effort into the development of efficient and sustainable water oxidation catalysts.
An important factor in creating photo-electrochemical fuel cells is the precise arrangement of the individual components. "If you don't do this, it's like throwing all the different parts of a clock into a bag, giving it a shake and then hoping it will be possible to tell the time," explains Prof. Edwin Constable from the University of Basel.
To determine the perfect arrangement of the catalysts, the Basel-based chemists developed a water oxidation model in their current study which, although powered by electricity, generates the same chemical intermediate states as light.
To accomplish this, they used compounds of the chemical element ruthenium as a catalyst. The critical feature is the self-assembly of the individual components in a hierarchical structure. The researchers thus succeeded in simulating fuel cells powered by light radiation. This model allowed them to test the position and efficiency of the individual components.
Rita Toth, Roché M. Walliser, Niamh S. Murray, Debajeet K. Bora, Artur Braun, Giuseppino Fortunato, Catherine E. Housecroft and Edwin C. Constable
A self-assembled, multicomponent water oxidation device
Chemistry Communication (2016), doi: 10.1039/c5cc09556e
Prof. Dr. Edwin C. Constable, University of Basel, Department of Chemistry, Tel. +41 61 267 10 01, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Reto Caluori | Universität Basel
Laser sensor LAH-G1 - optical distance sensors with measurement value display
15.08.2017 | WayCon Positionsmesstechnik GmbH
Engineers find better way to detect nanoparticles
14.08.2017 | Washington University in St. Louis
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
18.08.2017 | Life Sciences
18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences