Power-to-X: Improving the Efficiency of Catalysts for Water Oxidation and Key Reduction Reactions including Proton and CO2 Reduction

February 28th, 2023

R&D Focus Areas:

Lead Organisation:
Swinburne University of Technology

Not applicable


Start date:
January 2023

Completion date:
January 2026 (estimated)

Key contacts:
Gordon Chakaodza – Director, Victorian Hydrogen Hub: gchakaodza@swin.edu.au
Victorian Hydrogen Hub (VH2): vichydrogenhub@swin.edu.au
Rosalie Hocking – Project Primary Supervisor: rhocking@swin.edu.au
Aaron Bourke – Project Key Researcher: aaronbourke@swin.edu.au

Victorian Government – Victorian Hydrogen Hub

Project total cost:

Project summary description:
Rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) present one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century. To combat this, development of methods to replace heavy carbon-polluting industrial processes with sustainable synthesis is essential. The conversion of electricity into chemical fuels, i.e., hydrogen, has been intensively investigated as a promising approach for the storage and production of clean energy.

Hydrogen is a direct product of water splitting, and its combustion allows for a clean source of energy as it produces only heat and water with no offensive pollutants or CO2. A major issue with water electrolysis and the synthesis of chemical fuels, however, is the high energy barrier that must be overcome with the use of catalytic materials for the application of these processes on an industrial scale.

The ideal catalyst, which should be abundant, inexpensive, robust and efficient, is yet to be developed. The aim of this project is to therefore investigate and improve current benchmark catalyst-electrolyte systems in electrolytic devices to improve the efficiency of water oxidation and CO2 reduction reactions to produce environmentally-friendly fuels.

Currently, transition metal oxides (TMOs) are at the forefront of catalysis research. These materials have so far delivered promising results as catalysts for the aforementioned reactions. More recently, the activity of TMOs has been shown to improve upon the addition of organic ligands to the system, though the origin of this activity remains largely unknown. This research will further investigate these phenomena in order to improve the efficiency of electrolyser technologies.

Related publications and key links:
Das, B, Rahaman, A, Shatskiy, A, Verho, O, Kärkäs, MD & Åkermark, B 2021, ‘The Impact of Ligand Carboxylates on Electrocatalyzed Water Oxidation’, Accounts of Chemical Research, vol. 54, no. 17, pp. 3326-3337.

Zhu, Q, Murphy, CJ & Baker, LR 2022, ‘Opportunities for Electrocatalytic CO2 Reduction Enabled by Surface Ligands’, Journal of the American Chemical Society, vol. 144, no. 7, pp. 2829-2840.

Higher degree studies supported:
One PhD student at Swinburne University of Technology is supported by this project.


February 2023