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Low Cost Catalyst for Hydrogen Production and Renewable Energy Storage

Background: Molecular hydrogen (H2) is one of the world's most important chemicals with an annual production rate at the global scale of approximately 50 billion kg. H2 is mainly used for petroleum refining and for synthesizing ammonia (NH3)-based fertilizers. With continued growth of the global population and petroleum feedstocks becoming heavier the demand for H2 will probably continue to increase. Since hydrogen is mainly produced from fossil fuels developing an alternative renewable pathway to produce H2 in a cost-competitive manner would have a significant impact in reducing fossil fuel usage and CO2 emissions. One attractive pathway for clean hydrogen production is through electrocatalytic processes such as photoelectrochemical water splitting or electrolysis coupled to renewable energy sources. The hydrogen evolution reaction (HER 2H 2e- -> H2) constitutes half of the water splitting reaction. To increase process efficiency the overpotential needed to drive the HER must be minimized through the use of active catalysts. Currently platinum is the best known catalyst for HER as it requires negligible overpotential even at high reaction rates but the scarcity and high cost of Pt limits its widespread technological use. Non-noble metal alternatives include nickel and nickel alloy catalysts but they are typically not stable in acidic solutions preventing use in proton exchange membrane-based (PEM) electrolysis. Hence the central purpose of this invention is to make an acid-stable and highly active HER catalyst without the use of noble metals and by a scalable synthesis method. Technology Description: Researchers in Prof. Thomas Jaramillo’s laboratory have developed a durable efficient earth-abundant analogue to platinum for catalyzing hydrogen synthesis. This catalyst molybdenum phosphosulfide (MoP


1) Low cost material - molybdenum is an earth-abundant element that is much less expensive than traditional precious metal catalysts (e.g. platinum) 2) Efficient - superb catalytic activity for the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) in acidic environment 3) Durable - acid stable for long term industrial use 4) Scalable - catalyst synthesis is scalable and the efficient; cost-effective catalyst enables large scale hydrogen synthesis without expensive precious metals

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