Concept: For the first time, researchers at the University of Central Florida (UCF) have created a nanoscale material that can efficiently split seawater into oxygen and hydrogen, a clean energy fuel. The new nanoscale material seemingly aims to improve the efficiency of splitting seawater into oxygen and hydrogen. As a result, the usage of ecologically beneficial hydrogen fuel could become more widespread.

Nature of Disruption: The UCF researchers created a thin-film material with nanostructures on the surface constructed of nickel selenide with additional, or “doped,” iron and phosphor for their nanomaterial. The combination provides the high performance and stability required for electrolysis on a large scale. According to the researchers, the novel material balances competing reactions in a low-cost, high-performance manner. During tests earlier this month, researchers were able to achieve significant efficiency and long-term stability of the material for more than 200 hours.

Outlook: Many of the environmental issues connected with using fossil fuels can be solved by extracting hydrogen from seawater. Hydrogen fuel could be a plentiful, clean, cost-effective, and long-term replacement for fossil fuels. However, technological hurdles have restricted the potential power source, including how to capture it in a practical manner. The team says that the dual-doped film’s seawater electrolysis performance outperforms that of the most recently published state-of-the-art electrolysis catalysts and fulfills the stringent standards needed for industrial use. The researchers plan to work to improve the electrical efficiency of the nanomaterials they have created. They are also searching for ways to speed up and fund the work so that it can be commercialized.

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