This invention allows use of an efficient and stable oxygen evolution catalyst that facilitates water splitting without requiring noble metals or complicated synthesis methods.
The materials are oxyhydroxides composed of iron and nickel and are made using a microwave-assisted synthesis and a drop casting deposition method. They can be used to form the anode in an electrochemical cell for producing hydrogen and oxygen from water. This reaction is a key part of the technologies for energy production from solar and other renewable electrical energy sources. The invention can be coupled with novel hydrogen evolution catalysts, also being developed at KU, to greatly improve the efficiency and lower the cost of the electrolysis process.
The KU invention can be a key component in the alkaline electrolysis market. Current applications are in situations where oxygen and hydrogen are needed in isolated areas. Some examples are in submarines and in space travel. The lower cost of the electrode materials will facilitate its use in energy production applications.
The oxyhydroxide has a layered structure that allows for electron transport from the subsurface of the material to the solution via holes. This hole transport mechanism creates very high active site densities that facilitates the evolution of oxygen from an alkaline (basic) water solution. The microwave synthesis technique distributes metals uniformly in Ni-Fe pairs that have high activity.
Base metal materials are used in place of rare and expensive precious metals. The drop casting method for producing electrodes is more efficient than other methods.
Other groups have reported the use of oxyhydroxides as OER catalysts. This invention has higher activity because of the more uniform distribution of the metals provide by the microwave synthesis methodology.
The materials may also have applications in batteries and sensors.