A new substance for the creation of green hydrogen has been created by researchers at the University of Twente.

With electrolysers, water is transformed into hydrogen and oxygen.
Electrolysers, which use electricity to separate water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen, are typically used to produce green hydrogen. These days, platinum and iridium, two relatively rare and pricey elements, are frequently used in the electrodes of the most effective electrolysers.

The University of Twente has created a novel sort of composite, which is a mixture of many elements, that seems to be both reliable and effective. It was discovered that the combined activity of the five transition metals was seventeen times more than that of the top performing component alone.

 The composite is a reality that the paraphrase is a surprise to the scientists. “In electrolysis with water, two aspects are relevant: the activity of the reaction and the stability. We expected our composite to be particularly stable. But when we tested it, it also turned out to be very active,” says researcher Chris Baeumer. “The different elements work together in the reaction. They appear to ‘help’ each other. We discovered that there is a synergy effect.”

Compared to platinum and iridium, sustainable materials are being sought after by scientists all across the world, according to Baeumer. These two materials are typically found in the best electrolysers. But because they are rare resources, there will soon be a shortage. A highly rare metal called iridium is virtually exclusively found in South Africa. Iridium reserves will be depleted by 2050 due to the anticipated surge in demand for electrolysers.

The laboratory stage of the Twente discovery is currently ongoing. To evaluate the substance in an industrial context, the study team is collaborating with TNO. The study team is also looking for composites that may have an even higher hydrogen output.

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