Swarf Advances Green Hydrogen Production

April 26, 2024
Researchers turn metal waste into catalyst for hydrogen.

Researchers at the University of Nottingham have devised a method to convert metal waste into an effective catalyst for hydrogen production from water, according to a recent press release. By utilizing swarf, a byproduct of metal machining, they discovered that its nanoscale textured surface can anchor platinum or cobalt atoms, forming efficient electrocatalysts for water electrolysis. Published in the Journal of Material Chemistry A, this breakthrough addresses the challenge of expensive and rare catalyst materials, like platinum, used in traditional hydrogen production methods. Dr. Jesum Alves Fernandes, leading the research, highlights the potential of utilizing metal waste to produce hydrogen sustainably. Using magnetron sputtering, they deposited platinum atoms onto the swarf's surface, forming nanoparticles that align with the nanotextures, enhancing catalytic efficiency. This innovation could significantly advance green hydrogen production and mitigate reliance on fossil fuels.

“It is remarkable that we are able to produce hydrogen from water using only a tenth of the amount of platinum loading compared to state-of-the-art commercial catalysts,” said Madasamy Thangamuthu, one of the researchers at the University of Nottingham. “By spreading just 28 micrograms of the precious metal over 1 cm² of the swarf, we were able to create a laboratory-scale electrolyzer that operates with 100% efficiency and produces 0.5 liters of hydrogen gas per minute just from a single piece of swarf.”

The group is partnering with AqSorption Ltd, a Nottingham-based company specializing in electrolyzer design and fabrication, to scale up their technology.

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