Two University of Calgary researchers have developed a ground-breaking way to make new, affordable, and efficient catalysts for converting electricity into chemical energy.
Their technology opens the door to homeowners and energy companies being able to easily store and reuse solar and wind power. Such energy is clean and renewable, but it’s available only when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing.
The pair of researchers have patented their technology and created from their university research a spin-off company, FireWater Fuel Corp., to commercialize their electrocatalysts for use in electrolyzers.
Electrolyzer devices use catalysts to drive a chemical reaction that converts electricity into chemical energy by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen fuels. These fuels can then be stored and re-converted to electricity for use whenever wanted.
The only byproduct from such a ‘green’ energy system is water, which can be recycled through the system. To store and provide renewable power to a typical house would require an electrolyzer about the size of a beer fridge, containing a few litres of water and converting hydrogen to electricity with virtually no emissions, the researchers say.
Key to their discovery is that they deviated from conventional thinking about catalysts, which typically are made from rare, expensive and toxic metals in a crystalline structure.
Instead, Berlinguette and Trudel turned to simpler production methods for catalysts. This involved using abundant metal compounds or oxides (including iron oxide or ‘rust’), to create mixed metal oxide catalysts having a disordered, or amorphous, structure.
This story is reprinted from material from University of Calgary, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier. Link to original source.