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Leading the Hydrogen Economy Era Through the Paradigm Innovation of “Mass Printing of High Efficiency Catalysts”

Hydrogen does not have carbon dioxide emissions and is an environmentally friendly, next generation energy source of high efficiency. However, a low cost method of producing hydrogen must be found. In other words, enhancing the efficiency and economic feasibility of the energy conversion process of hydrogen production-storage-transportation are important tasks in preparation of the hydrogen era. For example, reducing the amount of expensive precious metals applied in the conversion equipment between hydrogen and electric energy sources and improving equipment performance are necessary. The research team of Professor Yeon Sik Jung recognized the lack of economic feasibility due to the significant use of expensive precious metal catalyst materials in conventional hydrogen production equipment and low efficiency caused by a disorderly structure. The research team developed a new fabrication technique of the iridium catalyst with a 3-dimensional lattice structure reminiscent of a woodpile employing an ultra high
resolution printing method to significantly improve the efficiency of hydrogen production equipment. Moreover, fabrication in large quantities is possible through the printing of fine catalysts instead of conventional chemical synthesis, which is costly; therefore, the economic feasibility of precious metal catalysts can increase and applications in various fields are expected, including exhaust emission reduction and carbon dioxide conversion, which can transform carbon dioxide into useful compounds in the future.

Printing woodpile shaped 3-dimensional lattice type iridium catalysts

The conventional hydrogen production process uses a large amount of expensive precious metal catalyst materials in the synthesis and coating processes through the induction of chemical reactions. The new technique of Prof. Jung’s research team is groundbreaking, especially considering its high
efficiency of over 20 times that of the conventional commercial catalyst when converting to the catalyst efficiency per iridium mass. A nanotransfer printing stacking technique similar to that of 3D printing was utilized to fabricate the woodpile shaped 3-dimensional lattice iridium catalyst structure. Unlike the conventional commercial iridium nanoparticle catalyst with a random shape and arrangement, the 3-dimensional lattice catalyst was designed based on the characteristic that it exhibits a regular structure. Gas bubbles formed on the catalyst surface escape efficiently so that high performance can be sustained. The efficiency and durability were verified in that the performance of electrolysis equipment can be improved using a much smaller amount of iridium.

Applications are predicted in the energy materials field for the intricate and high resolution control of fine patterns

Professor Yeon Sik Jung expected that the catalyst production technology of the 3-dimensional stacked printing method will bring about a change in the existing technology paradigm that mainly relied on complex chemical synthesis, saying, “The initial approach used fuel cell catalyst technology. The result of improving durability so that it can be used for longer while using much less expensive catalysts is encouraging.” Promising applications are predicted in the energy materials or sensor materials fields, including biomaterial sensing platform development and Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis technology,
applying the advantages of nanomaterials where fine patterns can be intricately controlled and arranged in high resolution.

This research achievement was published in the international academic journal, Nature Communications. (Title: Highly efficient oxygen evolution reaction via facile bubble transport realized by three-dimensionally stack-printed catalysts)

Prof. Yeon Sik Jung
2020 KI Annual Report

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