. Nano Technology News .

Nanoparticle Opens the Door to Clean-Energy Alternatives
by Katrina Voss for PSU News
University Park PA (SPX) Jun 18, 2013

Image showing hydrogen gas bubbling off of the surface of a nickel phosphide crystal. A team led by Raymond Schaak of Penn State University is studying nanoparticles made from nickel phosphide as a means to create cleaner energy technologies. Credit: Eric Popczun, Penn State University.

Cheaper clean-energy technologies could be made possible thanks to a new discovery. Led by Raymond Schaak, a professor of chemistry at Penn State University, research team members have found that an important chemical reaction that generates hydrogen from water is effectively triggered -- or catalyzed -- by a nanoparticle composed of nickel and phosphorus, two inexpensive elements that are abundant on Earth. The results of the research will be published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Schaak explained that the purpose of the nickel phosphide nanoparticle is to help produce hydrogen from water, which is a process that is important for many energy-production technologies, including fuel cells and solar cells. "Water is an ideal fuel, because it is cheap and abundant, but we need to be able to extract hydrogen from it," Schaak said.

Hydrogen has a high energy density and is a great energy carrier, Schaak explained, but it requires energy to produce. To make its production practical, scientists have been hunting for a way to trigger the required chemical reactions with an inexpensive catalyst.

Schaak noted that this feat is accomplished very well by platinum but, because platinum is expensive and relatively rare, he and his team have been searching for alternative materials. "There were some predictions that nickel phosphide might be a good candidate, and we had already been working with nickel phosphide nanoparticles for several years," Schaak said. "It turns out that nanoparticles of nickel phosphide are indeed active for producing hydrogen and are comparable to the best known alternatives to platinum."

To create the nickel phosphide nanoparticles, team members began with metal salts that are commercially available. They then dissolved these salts in solvents, added other chemical ingredients, and heated the solution to allow the nanoparticles to form. The researchers were able create a nanoparticle that was quasi-spherical -- not a perfect sphere, but spherical with many flat, exposed edges.

"The small size of the nanoparticles creates a high surface area, and the exposed edges means that a large number of sites are available to catalyze the chemical reaction that produces hydrogen," Schaak explained.

The next step was for team members at the California Institute of Technology to test the nanoparticles' performance in catalyzing the necessary chemical reactions. Led by Nathan S. Lewis, the George L. Argyros Professor of Chemistry at the California Institute of Technology, the researchers performed these tests by placing the nanoparticles onto a sheet of titanium foil and immersing that sheet in a solution of sulfuric acid.

Next, the researchers applied a voltage and measured the current produced. They found that, not only were the chemical reactions happening as they had hoped, they also were happening with a high degree of efficacy.

"Nanoparticle technology has already started to open the door to cheaper and cleaner energy that is also efficient and useful," Schaak said. "The goal now is to further improve the performance of these nanoparticles and to understand what makes them function the way they do. Also, our team members believe that our success with nickel phosphide can pave the way toward the discovery of other new catalysts that also are comprised of Earth-abundant materials. Insights from this discovery may lead to even better catalysts in the future."

In addition to Schaak and Lewis, other researchers who contributed to this study include Eric J. Popczun, Carlos G. Read, Adam J. Biacchi, and Alex M. Wiltrout from Penn State; and James R. McKone from the California Institute of Technology.

The research was funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy. The team has filed a patent application.


Related Links
Chemistry at Penn State University
Nano Technology News From SpaceMart.com
Computer Chip Architecture, Technology and Manufacture

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review

Newsletters :: SpaceDaily Express :: SpaceWar Express :: TerraDaily Express :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Get Our Free Newsletters
Space - Defense - Environment - Energy - Solar - Nuclear


Polymer structures serve as 'nanoreactors' for nanocrystals with uniform sizes, shapes
Atlanta GA (SPX) Jun 14, 2013
Using star-shaped block co-polymer structures as tiny reaction vessels, researchers have developed an improved technique for producing nanocrystals with consistent sizes, compositions and architectures - including metallic, ferroelectric, magnetic, semiconductor and luminescent nanocrystals. The technique relies on the length of polymer molecules and the ratio of two solvents to control the size ... read more

S. Korea opens bidding on $7.3 bn fighter jet deal

Beechcraft issues statement on LAS dispute

EADS Examines Electric And Hybrid Propulsion To Further Reduce Aircraft Emissions

Google to beam Internet from balloons

China's Naughty Space Models

China's space dream crystallized with Shenzhou-10 launch

China astronauts enter space module

China to send second woman into space: officials

Snowden poses stress test for H.K.'s ties with China

Snowden extradition would be a 'betrayal': China media

Obama says China hears 'blunt' message on hacking

German spy service plans more online surveillance: report

China launches its first carbon trading scheme: report

China is outsourcing carbon within its own borders

UMD scientists publish key findings on regional, global impact of trade on the environment

Wood as energy source not as 'green' in carbon terms as thought

Popcorn particle pathways promise better lithium-ion batteries

Unzipped nanotubes unlock potential for batteries

Autonomous energy-scavenging micro devices will test water quality, monitor bridges, more

Central European presidents back Nabucco West over TAP rival

Raytheon to improve US Army air defenses, better identify targets

Thales delivers 1,000th Bushmaster to Australia

Cyprus assesses security, safety threats of submerged ammo dumps

Northrop Grumman Begins Sampling New Gallium Nitride Packaged Power Amplifier

Nano-thermometer enables first atomic-scale heat transfer measurements

Polymer structures serve as 'nanoreactors' for nanocrystals with uniform sizes, shapes

Nanoparticle Opens the Door to Clean-Energy Alternatives

Spot-welding graphene nanoribbons atom by atom

Robot that runs like a cat springs to life in Switzerland

When Will My Computer Understand Me

Space droids calling

NASA Awards Sample Return Robot Centennial Challenge Prize

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2012 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement