Three-dimensional, precious-metal-free electrolysis of water

February 21st, 2022

R&D Focus Areas:
Direct hydrogen carrier production, Electrolysis

Lead Organisation:
University of New South Wales (UNSW)

Not applicable


Start date:

Completion date:

Key contacts:
Professor Chuan Zhao:

AUD$340,000 – Australian Research Council

Project summary description:
The project examined development of an efficient water electrolyser prototype made of nonprecious materials.  Recent breakthrough in developing cost effective catalysts for water electrolysis has opened enormous opportunities for large-scale production of hydrogen fuels and storage of electricity generated from clean energy sources such as solar and wind.

This project aimed to develop a new generation of three-dimensional, nanostructured electrodes made of nonprecious metals for water electrolysis, which match or outperform the benchmark electrodes based on precious metals. In making these electrodes, the project planned to explore the fundamental behaviours of hierarchical nanoporous electrode architectures and discover new catalyst materials.

Related publications and key links:
Zhao Group page:

Changlong Xiao, Yibing Li, Xunyu Lu & Chuan Zhao 2016, ‘Bifunctional Porous NiFe/NiCo2O4/Ni Foam Electrodes with Triple Hierarchy and Double Synergies for Efficient Whole Cell Water Splitting’, Advanced Functional Materials, vol. 26, no. 20, pp. 3515–3523, doi:10.1002/adfm.201505302

Bryan H. R. Suryanto, Yun Wang, Rosalie K. Hocking, William Adamson & Chuan Zhao 2019, ‘Overall electrochemical splitting of water at the heterogeneous interface of nickel and iron oxide’, Nature Communications, vol. 10, no. 1, doi:10.1038/s41467-019-13415-8

Jingjing Duan, Sheng Chen & Chuan Zhao 2017, ‘Ultrathin metal-organic framework array for efficient electrocatalytic water splitting’, Nature Communications, vol. 8, pp. 15341, doi:10.1038/ncomms15341

Chunyu Qiu, Fuxian Cai, Yuan Wang, Yijun Liu, Qingxiang Wang & Chuan Zhao 2020, ‘2-Methylimidazole directed ambient synthesis of zinc-cobalt LDH nanosheets for efficient oxygen evolution reaction’, Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, vol. 565, pp. 351–359, doi:10.1016/j.jcis.2019.12.070

William Adamson, Xin Bo, Yibing Li, Bryan H.R. Suryanto, Xianjue Chen & Chuan Zhao 2019, ‘Co-Fe binary metal oxide electrocatalyst with synergistic interface structures for efficient overall water splitting’, Catalysis Today, doi:10.1016/j.cattod.2019.01.060

Xin Bo, Kamran Dastafkan & Chuan Zhao 2019, ‘Design of Multi-Metallic-Based Electrocatalysts for Enhanced Water Oxidation’, ChemPhysChem, vol. 20, no. 22, pp. 2936–2945, doi:10.1002/cphc.201900507

Karin Ching, Tim Fang, Xianjue Chen, Shiyang Liu & Chuan Zhao 2019, ‘One-Step Photochemical Synthesis of Transition Metal–Graphene Hybrid for Electrocatalysis’, ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, doi:10.1021/acssuschemeng.8b05607

Kamran Dastafkan, Yibing Li, Yachao Zeng, Li Han & Chuan Zhao 2019, ‘Enhanced surface wettability and innate activity of an iron borate catalyst for efficient oxygen evolution and gas bubble detachment’, Journal of Materials Chemistry A, vol. 7, no. 25, pp. 15252– 15261, doi:10.1039/c9ta03346g

Guang Liu, Yong Zhao, Rui Yao, Na Li, Muheng Wang, Hangjuan Ren, Jinping Li & Chuan Zhao 2019, ‘Realizing high performance solar water oxidation for Ti-doped hematite nanoarrays by synergistic decoration with ultrathin cobalt-iron phosphate nanolayers’, Chemical Engineering Journal, vol. 355, pp. 49–57, doi:10.1016/j.cej.2018.08.100

Chunyu Qiu, Suqi He, Yuan Wang, Qingxiang Wang & Chuan Zhao 2019, ‘Interfacial Engineering FeOOH/CoO Nanoneedle Array for Efficient Overall Water Splitting Driven by Solar Energy’, Chemistry – A European Journal, doi:10.1002/chem.201904352

Hangjuan Ren, Thomas Dittrich, Hongyang Ma, Judy N. Hart, Steffen Fengler, Sheng Chen, Yibing Li, Yu Wang, Fuyang Cao, Mauricio Schieda, Yun Hau Ng, Zhirun Xie, Xin Bo, Pramod Koshy, Leigh R. Sheppard, Chuan Zhao & Charles C. Sorrell 2019, ‘Manipulation of Charge Transport by Metallic V13 O16 Decorated on Bismuth Vanadate Photoelectrochemical Catalyst’, Advanced Materials, pp. 1807204, doi:10.1002/adma.201807204

Yuqian Shen, Kamran Dastafkan, Qiangqiang Sun, Liyuan Wang, Yi Ma, Zenglin Wang & Chuan Zhao 2019, ‘Improved electrochemical performance of nickel-cobalt hydroxides by electrodeposition of interlayered reduced graphene oxide’, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, vol. 44, no. 7, pp. 3658–3667, doi:10.1016/j.ijhydene.2018.12.098

Qiangqiang Sun, Meng Zhou, Yuqian Shen, Liyuan Wang, Yi Ma, Yibing Li, Xin Bo, Zenglin Wang & Chuan Zhao 2019, ‘Hierarchical nanoporous Ni(Cu) alloy anchored on amorphous NiFeP as efficient bifunctional electrocatalysts for hydrogen evolution and hydrazine oxidation’, Journal of Catalysis, vol. 373, pp. 180–189, doi:10.1016/j.jcat.2019.03.039

Liyuan Wang, Yibin Li, Qiangqiang Sun, Qi Qiang, Yuqian Shen, Yi Ma, Zenglin Wang & Chuan Zhao 2019, ‘Ultralow Fe III Ion Doping Triggered Generation of Ni 3 S 2 Ultrathin Nanosheet for Enhanced Oxygen Evolution Reaction’, ChemCatChem, vol. 11, no. 7, pp. 2011–2016, doi:10.1002/cctc.201801959

Meng Zhou, Qiangqiang Sun, Yuquian Shen, Yi Ma, Zenglin Wang & Chuan Zhao 2019, ‘Fabrication of 3D microporous amorphous metallic phosphides for high-efficiency hydrogen evolution reaction’, Electrochimica Acta, vol. 306, pp. 651– 659, doi:10.1016/j.electacta.2019.03.160

Majid Asnavandi, Yichun Yin, Yibing Li, Chenghua Sun & Chuan Zhao 2018, ‘Promoting Oxygen Evolution Reactions through Introduction of Oxygen Vacancies to Benchmark NiFe–OOH Catalysts’, ACS Energy Letters, vol. 3, no. 7, pp. 1515– 1520, doi:10.1021/acsenergylett.8b00696

Majid Asnavandi, Bryan H. R. Suryanto, Wanfeng Yang, Xin Bo & Chuan Zhao 2018, ‘Dynamic Hydrogen Bubble Templated NiCu Phosphide Electrodes for pH-Insensitive Hydrogen Evolution Reactions’, ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, vol. 6, no. 3, pp. 2866– 2871, doi:10.1021/acssuschemeng.7b02492

Jingjing Bai, Qiangqiang Sun, Meng Zhou, Liyuan Wang, Yuqian Shen, Yi Ma, Zenglin Wang & Chuan Zhao 2018, ‘Copper (0) Doping Makes Cobalt-Nickel Hydroxide a High-Efficiency Catalyst for Hydrogen Evolution Reaction’, Journal of The Electrochemical Society, vol. 165, no. 13, pp. H866–H871, doi:10.1149/2.0881813jes

Xin Bo, Yibing Li, Xianjue Chen & Chuan Zhao 2018, ‘High valence chromium regulated cobalt-iron-hydroxide for enhanced water oxidation’, Journal of Power Sources, vol. 402, pp. 381–387, doi:10.1016/j.jpowsour.2018.09.063

Jingjing Duan, Sheng Chen, Yibing Li & Chuan Zhao 2018, ‘Closely Arranged 3D–0D Graphene–Nickel Sulfide Superstructures for Bifunctional Hydrogen Electrocatalysis’, ACS Applied Energy Materials, vol. 1, no. 11, pp. 6368–6373, doi:10.1021/acsaem.8b01348

Jingjing Duan, Sheng Chen & Chuan Zhao 2018, ‘Strained Nickel Phosphide Nanosheet Array’, ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, vol. 10, no. 36, pp. 30029–30034, doi:10.1021/acsami.8b09147

Lucy Gloag, Tania M. Benedetti, Soshan Cheong, Yibing Li, Xuan-Hao Chan, Lise-Marie Lacroix, Shery L. Y. Chang, Raul Arenal, Ileana Florea, Hector Barron, Amanda S. Barnard, Anna M. Henning, Chuan Zhao, Wolfgang Schuhmann, J. Justin

Gooding & Richard D. Tilley 2018, ‘Three-Dimensional Branched and Faceted Gold-Ruthenium Nanoparticles: Using Nanostructure to Improve Stability in Oxygen Evolution Electrocatalysis’, Angewandte Chemie International Edition, vol. 57, no. 32, pp. 10241–10245, doi:10.1002/anie.201806300

Suqi He, Suyu He, Feng Gao, Xin Bo, Qingxiang Wang, Xianjue Chen, Jingjing Duan & Chuan Zhao 2018, ‘Ni2P@carbon core-shell nanorod array derived from ZIF-67-Ni: Effect of phosphorization temperature on morphology, structure and hydrogen evolution reaction performance’, Applied Surface Science, vol. 457, pp. 933–941, doi:10.1016/j.apsusc.2018.07.033

Yibing Li, Xin Tan, Sheng Chen, Xin Bo, Hangjuan Ren, Sean C. Smith & Chuan Zhao 2018, ‘Processable Surface Modification of Nickel-Heteroatom (N, S) Bridge Sites for Promoted Alkaline Hydrogen Evolution’, Angewandte Chemie International Edition, vol. 58, no. 2, pp. 461–466, doi:10.1002/anie.201808629

Guang Liu, Rui Yao, Yong Zhao, Muheng Wang, Na Li, Yibing Li, Xin Bo, Jinping Li & Chuan Zhao 2018, ‘Encapsulation of Ni/Fe3O4 heterostructures inside onion-like N-doped carbon nanorods enables synergistic electrocatalysis for water oxidation’, Nanoscale, vol. 10, no. 8, pp. 3997–4003, doi:10.1039/c7nr09446a

Xiaoshan Su, Qiangqiang Sun, Jingjing Bai, Zenglin Wang & Chuan Zhao 2018, ‘Electrodeposition of porous MoO42– doped NiFe nanosheets for highly efficient electrocatalytic oxygen evolution reactions’, Electrochimica Acta, vol. 260, pp. 477–482, doi:10.1016/j.electacta.2017.12.110

Qiangqiang Sun, Yujuan Dong, Zenglin Wang, Shiwei Yin & Chuan Zhao 2018, ‘Synergistic Nanotubular Copper-Doped Nickel Catalysts for Hydrogen Evolution Reactions’, Small, vol. 14, no. 14, pp. 1704137, doi:10.1002/smll.201704137

Bryan H. R. Suryanto, Tim Fang, Soshan Cheong, Richard D. Tilley & Chuan Zhao 2018, ‘From the inside-out: leached metal impurities in multiwall carbon nanotubes for purification or electrocatalysis’, Journal of Materials Chemistry A, vol. 6, no. 11, pp. 4686– 4694, doi:10.1039/c7ta11257b, DP160103107

 Qingxiang Wang, Kamran Dastafkan & Chuan Zhao 2018, ‘Design strategies for non-precious metal oxide electrocatalysts for oxygen evolution reactions’, Current Opinion in Electrochemistry, vol. 10, pp. 16–23, doi:10.1016/j.coelec.2018.03.015

Qinghua Wang, Qingxiang Wang, Biyan Xu, Feng Gao, Fei Gao & Chuan Zhao 2018, ‘Flower-shaped multiwalled carbon nanotubes@nickel-trimesic acid MOF composite as a high-performance cathode material for energy storage’, Electrochimica Acta, vol. 281, pp. 69–77, doi:10.1016/j.electacta.2018.05.159

Higher degree studies supported:
One postdoctoral, one PhD, and four Honours students


February 2022