Reporting By: pv Magazine
Date Published: 13 May 2022
Photo Credit: Port of Rotterdam

A team of researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Cornell University, and Wuhan University have designed a nickel-based electrocatalyst with a 2-nanometer shell made of nitrogen-doped carbon to solve the two problems of nonprecious-metal hydrogen oxidation reaction electrocatalysts: low intrinsic activity from strong hydrogen binding energy and poor durability due to rapid passivation from metal oxide formation. According to their paper, recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, nickel nanoparticles tend to adsorb oxygen-containing reaction intermediates. The “hydrogen fuel cell has an anode catalyst consisting of a solid nickel core surrounded by the carbon shell. When paired with a cobalt-manganese cathode, the resulting completely precious-metal-free hydrogen fuel cell outputs more than 200 milliwatts per square centimeter,” the researchers wrote. According to the team, an additional advantage is that the configuration of the active site increases the tolerance for carbon monoxide impurities in the hydrogen fuel. “This means the fuel cells do not need a special unit to remove carbon monoxide and can use less refined hydrogen, further reducing costs.”

Europe is a clear opportunity for Australian companies, and the Netherlands is taking the lead. Europe “is an important marketplace,” said Jason Crusan, vice president of technology at Australian gas producer Woodside, during the World Hydrogen Summit in Rotterdam. Many Australian attendees took part virtually and in person. During the three-day conference, the Port of Rotterdam proved once more its hydrogen ambitions. Together with companies, it offered European institutions to supply northwestern Europe with 4.6 million tons of hydrogen annually by 2030. “This is considerably more than expected,” the port wrote on Tuesday. On Friday, Gasco, HyNewGen, Linde, Vopak, and Port of Rotterdam said they were concluding a feasibility study to develop a 200 to 500 MW green hydrogen project in Chile (Project Tango).

Also taking part in the event, European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans underscored the importance of Australia, the Americas and the Mediterranean. “I started out today with scientific revolutions in Rotterdam, and I am ending with new energy forms coming from Africa and the Mediterranean. The Mediterranean is back, which I find fascinating. But the Mediterranean and the North Sea are connected,” said Timmermans on Tuesday. 

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