Decoupling hydrogen and oxygen evolution during electrolytic water splitting using an electron-coupled-proton buffer

Symes, M.D. and Cronin, L. (2013) Decoupling hydrogen and oxygen evolution during electrolytic water splitting using an electron-coupled-proton buffer. Nature Chemistry, 5, pp. 403-409. (doi:10.1038/nchem.1621)

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Abstract

Hydrogen is essential to several key industrial processes and could play a major role as an energy carrier in a future ‘hydrogen economy’. Although the majority of the world's hydrogen supply currently comes from the reformation of fossil fuels, its generation from water using renewables-generated power could provide a hydrogen source without increasing atmospheric CO2 levels. Conventional water electrolysis produces H2 and O2 simultaneously, such that these gases must be generated in separate spaces to prevent their mixing. Herein, using the polyoxometalate H3PMo12O40, we introduce the concept of the electron-coupled-proton buffer (ECPB), whereby O2 and H2 can be produced at separate times during water electrolysis. This could have advantages in preventing gas mixing in the headspaces of high-pressure electrolysis cells, with implications for safety and electrolyser degradation. Furthermore, we demonstrate that temporally separated O2 and H2 production allows greater flexibility regarding the membranes and electrodes that can be used in water-splitting cells.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Symes, Dr Mark
Authors: Symes, M.D., and Cronin, L.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Chemistry
Journal Name:Nature Chemistry
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:1755-4330
Published Online:14 April 2013

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