News Release

Investigation of NiFe based catalysts for water oxidation in different pH electrolytes

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics, Chinese Academy Sciences

Figure Abstract

image: During the oxygen evolution reaction process, the rate determining steps (RDS) of NiFe LDH catalysts in alkaline condition is from *O to *OOH while *OH formation in neutral conditions. view more 

Credit: Chinese Journal of Catalysis

Renewable electricity driven water splitting offers a green and sustainable way to produce hydrogen (H2). The key to improving the water splitting efficiency is an efficient electrocatalyst. Non-noble nickel iron (NiFe)-based electrocatalysts are among the best catalysts for OER in alkaline electrolytes. However, they show much lower activity in neutral pH conditions, which limits their application in seawater splitting and CO2 reduction. Despite that many works on NiFe-based electrocatalysts have been reported, their poor OER performance and detailed mechanism in neutral pH electrolytes remain to be discovered. To obtain a fundamental understanding of the mechanisms and functionalities of NiFe electrocatalysts, it is essential to elucidate their compositional and structural changes during the OER process.

Recently, research teams led by Prof. Jingshan Luo from Nankai University and Prof. Junhu Wang from Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences reported a research on the OER mechanism of NiFe based catalysts in different pH electrolytes. This work presented a systematic electrochemical and operando spectroscopy study of NiFe LDH for OER in different pH electrolytes. The NiFe LDH catalysts showed a clear pH dependent OER activity. Operando/ex-situ Raman spectroscopy indicated the formation of Ni3+ species requires higher potential in neutral and near-neutral conditions than in the alkaline electrolyte. The operando 57Fe Mössbauer spectra results also confirmed that Fe4+ species are difficult to form or generated at the more positive potential in neutral or near neutral conditions, compared to NiFe LDH in alkaline conditions. In addition to the different feasibility for forming high-valent Ni3+ and Fe4+ species, the rate-determining step (RDS) of NiFe LDH for OER was also different in different pH conditions. In alkaline conditions, the barrier for the *OH adsorption and formation of *O is reduced, and the transformation of *O to *OOH is the RDS, leading to a high OER performance. While in a neutral medium, the *OH adsorption is the RDS. Our results provide new insights for understanding the OER mechanism, and will promote the design of highly efficient electrocatalysts for water oxidation. The results were published in Chinese Journal of Catalysis (


This work was supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2019YFE0123400, 2018YFB1502003), the Excellent Young Scholar Fund from the National Science Foundation of China (22122903), the Tianjin Distinguished Young Scholar Fund (20JCJQJC00260), and the “111” Project (B16027), the scholarship from the China Scholarship Council, the Gebert Rüf Stiftung under Microbials scheme ‘Solar‐Bio Fuels’ (GRS‐080/19), the Early Postdoc Research Fellowship from the Swiss National Science Foundation (P2ELP2_199800), National Science Foundation of China (21961142006), and the International Partnership Program of Chinese Academy of Sciences (121421KYSB20170020).

About the Journal

Chinese Journal of Catalysis is co-sponsored by Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences and Chinese Chemical Society, and it is currently published by Elsevier group. This monthly journal publishes in English timely contributions of original and rigorously reviewed manuscripts covering all areas of catalysis. The journal publishes Reviews, Accounts, Communications, Articles, Highlights, Perspectives, and Viewpoints of highly scientific values that help understanding and defining of new concepts in both fundamental issues and practical applications of catalysis. Chinese Journal of Catalysis ranks among the top two journals in Applied Chemistry with a current SCI impact factor of 12.92. The Editors-in-Chief are Profs. Can Li and Tao Zhang.

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