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: email@example.com
Reto Caluori | Universität Basel
The role of Sodium for the Enhancement of Solar Cells
17.07.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung GmbH
Behavior-influencing policies are critical for mass market success of low carbon vehicles
17.07.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.
Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
17.07.2018 | Information Technology
17.07.2018 | Materials Sciences
17.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering