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Hollow carbon shells enhanced by confined ruthenium as cost-efficient and superior catalysts for the alkaline hydrogen evolution reaction

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Abstract

Alkaline electrochemical water splitting is expected to realize large-scale hydrogen production. High-cost platinum (Pt) has an intrinsically high activity as an electrocatalyst for the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) due to its unique properties. However, there is a pressing need for developing inexpensive alternatives to high-cost Pt-based catalysts for large-scale H2 production, such as carbon-based catalysts. In this work, we report the use of hollow carbon sphere catalysts activated by ruthenium (Ru) structures encapsulated in the cavity. Hollow carbon sphere-confined Ru nanoparticles (HCRNs) and hollow carbon sphere-confined Ru layers (HCRLs) exhibit excellent catalytic performance for the alkaline HER. The HCRNs (Ru: 4.8 wt%) and HCRLs (Ru: 23.5 wt%) display high turnover frequencies (TOFs) of 0.77 s−1 and 0.25 s−1 at 15 mV, respectively, and small overpotentials of 33 and 18 mV at 10 mA cm−2 (η10), respectively. These catalysts also display a remarkable stability for 10 000 cycles, outperforming other Ru/C catalysts as well as commercial Pt/C catalysts (20 wt%, TOF = 0.19 s−1 at 15 mV, η10 = 38 mV). Density functional theory calculations reveal that the carbon shells are activated by electron transfer from the encapsulated Ru. These unique nanostructures enhance the carbon atoms-adsorbed hydrogen atom bond and lower the ΔGH* on the carbon surface via electron transport between their contact interfaces.

Graphical abstract: Hollow carbon shells enhanced by confined ruthenium as cost-efficient and superior catalysts for the alkaline hydrogen evolution reaction

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Publication details

The article was received on 19 Sep 2018, accepted on 12 Nov 2018 and first published on 13 Nov 2018


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C8TA09136F
Citation: J. Mater. Chem. A, 2019, Advance Article
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    Hollow carbon shells enhanced by confined ruthenium as cost-efficient and superior catalysts for the alkaline hydrogen evolution reaction

    Z. Peng, H. Wang, L. Zhou, Y. Wang, J. Gao, G. Liu, S. A. T. Redfern, X. Feng, S. Lu, B. Li and Z. Liu, J. Mater. Chem. A, 2019, Advance Article , DOI: 10.1039/C8TA09136F

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