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Catalyst Slashes Iridium Use by 95% In Hydrogen Production

Catalyst Slashes Iridium Use by 95% In Hydrogen Production


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Discover how this method could transform energy production globally and make green hydrogen a feasible alternative to fossil fuels.

As the world shifts from fossil fuels, hydrogen emerges as a potential major energy source. The production of “green” hydrogen—created without fossil fuels—faces challenges due to the necessity of rare metals like iridium. Iridium’s scarcity has hindered large-scale production, as current global energy demands reach about 18 terawatts.

A team at the RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science (CSRS) in Japan presents a significant advancement. They’ve developed a method that drastically reduces the required amount of iridium by 95% for hydrogen production through electrochemical reactions, maintaining the same production rate.

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This approach uses a catalyst blend of manganese oxide and iridium. By dispersing single atoms of iridium across the manganese oxide, ensuring they do not touch or clump together, the team enabled sustained hydrogen production in a proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyzer with significantly less iridium. This method achieved continuous hydrogen production for over 3,000 hours at 82% efficiency without degradation. The unique interaction between manganese oxide and iridium, particularly the iridium in a +6 oxidation state, was crucial to this success.

The current study not only offers a bridge between rare metal- and common metal-based electrolyzers but also represents a potential immediate increase in the capacity of existing PEM electrolyzers. The team is optimistic about the real-world application of this new catalyst and its potential to scale up hydrogen production significantly. This could potentially reduce the reliance on iridium even further, contributing to the development of sustainable, large-scale green hydrogen production solutions. The team’s efforts to replace rare metals with more abundant ones like manganese aim to make green hydrogen a viable alternative to fossil fuels, aligning with global energy production demands and environmental sustainability goals.



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Catalyst Slashes Iridium Use by 95% In Hydrogen Production
Catalyst Slashes Iridium Use by 95% In Hydrogen Production

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