A team of researchers from UNIST has developed a hydrogel thin film technology that enhances the efficiency and stability of gas evolution reactions, particularly in the production of green hydrogen.
In a breakthrough study, researchers from the School of Energy and Chemical Engineering at UNIST have successfully created a large-area hydrogel thin film technology that can be universally applied to gas-evolving electrodes. This technology has the potential to revolutionize the production of clean gas raw materials, such as green hydrogen, by significantly enhancing production efficiency and expediting commercialization.
The researchers addressed a critical challenge in gas evolution reactions, where gases like hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen often become trapped as air bubbles on the electrode surface. This accumulation of gas bubbles impedes electrolyte permeation and diminishes overall efficiency. To overcome this issue, the research team coated the electrode surface with a hydrogel layer featuring porous structures.
The hydrogel used in this study is a readily available material with high hydrophilicity, commonly found in cosmetics, ointments, and diapers. By applying a hydrogel thin film, the researchers enabled efficient gas exchange and the swift removal of gas bubbles. The hydrophilic gel overlayers with interconnected open pores physically separated bubble adhesion and catalytic active sites, reducing bubble adhesion strength and promoting bubble removal.
This innovative approach, known as the gel-like aerophobic surface system (GLASS), allows for the fabrication of large-area superaerophobic electrodes (up to 100 cm2) for diverse gas evolution reactions. GLASS electrodes are easily and uniformly fabricated by simple spin-coating and cross-linking of polyallylamine on virtually any type of electrode within 5 minutes under ambient conditions.
The GLASS electrodes demonstrated significantly enhanced efficiency and stability for various gas evolution reactions, including hydrogen evolution, hydrazine oxidation, and oxygen evolution reactions. This breakthrough provides deeper insights into the effect of the hydrophilic microenvironment on gas evolution reactions and offers a practical solution for designing efficient and stable electrochemical devices.
The development of this hydrogel thin film technology has the potential to revolutionize the production of clean gas raw materials, particularly green hydrogen. With its ability to enhance production efficiency and mitigate the accumulation of gas bubbles on electrode surfaces, this technology paves the way for a more sustainable and commercially viable future in gas production.
As the demand for clean energy continues to grow, innovations like the GLASS electrodes offer a fresh perspective on improving energy conversion devices. By addressing the challenges associated with gas evolution reactions, this research brings us closer to realizing efficient and stable energy conversion devices, ultimately contributing to a cleaner and greener future.