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USA and Germany collaborate on hydrogen development

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The National Science Foundation of the United States and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) have collaborated to award the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the Technical University of Darmstadt a three-year $720,000 research grant to investigate opportunities to more efficiently produce green hydrogen.

This is one of the first projects supported by the NSF-DFG Lead Agency Activity in Electrosynthesis and Electrocatalysis (NSF-DFG EChem), an international effort to support collaborative work between American and German researchers on engineering science projects for novel and fundamental electrochemical reactions and studies. The new research brings together a diverse team that includes UIUC Professors Hong Yang and Nicola Perry, as well as TU Darmstadt Professor Andreas Klein.

Green hydrogen is created by splitting water molecules with an electrolyzer that uses renewable electric energy—but this method currently consumes a lot of energy and is not cost-effective.

The goal of this newly funded research project is to improve the efficiency and stability of electrolysis for water splitting by studying the engineering science of new classes of electrocatalysts such as pyrochlores.

Catalysts help to accelerate chemical reactions. The researchers will utilize cutting-edge techniques to show the intricate surface and bulk structures of the catalysts, which influence catalytic performance and reaction speeds. Their goal is to pinpoint the precise chemistry, right down to the atomic level, that produces the most reactive and stable electrocatalysts for water splitting.

Finally, better catalysts are required to reduce electricity consumption while meeting the stability criterion for producing green hydrogen at a lower cost.

Anela Dokso

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