Research

Precious metal-free nanocatalyst: a key step toward hydrogen society
A research team led by Yu Zhang has recently designed and synthesized a novel non-precious Cu@Fe5Ni5 core@shell nanocatalyst, exhibiting 100% H2 selectivity and high activity for the complete decomposition of hydrous hydrazine under ambient conditions, which would certainly promote the effective application of hydrous hydrazine as a promising hydrogen storage material.




Hydrogen is generally proposed to be an important energy vector to face the increasing level of energy crisis and environmental pollution due to its high energy density and efficiency with low environmental load. However, even after several decades of intensive exploration, hydrogen storage is still one of the most challenging barriers that impede the implementation of the hydrogen-based economy.
Hydrous hydrazine, due to its inherent advantages such as high hydrogen content, easy recharging as a liquid and so on has generally considered as a promising hydrogen storage carrier. Unfortunately, the decomposition of hydrous hydrazine to H2 is terribly sluggish and/or poorly selective on noble metal catalyst, to say nothing of non-precious metal based catalysts even at elevated temperature.
To meet this daunting challenge, for the first time, Zhang et al. designed a novel precious metal-free core@shell nanocrystal (Cu@Fe5Ni5), which is successfully prepared via a facile while very effective in situ seeding-growth strategy. Unexpectedly, the nanocrystals exhibit 100% H2 selectivity and high activity for the complete decomposition of hydrous hydrazine, which is considered to be due to the electronic coupling between core and shell metals.
The obtained promising results would certainly promote the effective application of hydrous hydrazine as a promising on-board hydrogen storage material. Furthermore, in light of the discovered synergistic structural and electronic effect, much higher catalytic efficiency could be obtained by replacing Cu with other metal as core composition.

Yu Zhang, associate professor, school of chemistry and environment, Beihang University, E-mail: jade@buaa.edu.cn

Reference
[1] J. Wang, Y. Li, Y. Zhang*, Adv. Funct. Mater. 2014, 24, 7073-7077.