Polyoxometalate-Based Catalysts for Hydrogen Fuel


Novel water oxidation catalysts for the production of molecular hydrogen (H2), a clean sustainable fuel.

Key Benefits

  • Oxidatively, hydrolytically, and thermally stable.
  • Easily assembled in solution from the earth-abundant elements Co, W, and P.
  • More efficient than all previously disclosed systems.

Technical Summary

The research group of Dr. Craig Hill at Emory University has developed a robust catalyst that shows unprecedented selectivity, activity, and stability for the oxidation of water. These polyoxometalate-based catalysts contain an all-inorganic framework making them significantly more stable than previously studied systems. Importantly, these complexes are trivial to assemble from non-precious metals and other earth-abundant elements, in turn making their cost of production minimal. Because these catalysts are homogenous in nature they are not only more efficient, but also far easier to study and optimize than their non-soluble, heterogeneous counterparts. These powerful catalysts represent landmark discoveries in the field of water oxidation, and in turn show incredible promise for the future development of clean, renewable, and sustainable energy sources.

The challenge to produce clean renewable energy has become an issue of utmost importance to our current society. The majority of the world's current energy supplies come from the conversion of sunlight to chemical energy through plant photosynthesis. Aiming to replicate this, there has been considerable interest in the development of artificial photosynthetic methods. One particularly promising technology in this field involves the direct oxidation of water to produce molecular oxygen (O2) and hydrogen (H2), a clean sustainable fuel, through the use of a metal-based catalyst and sunlight. Prior to the work of Dr. Hill's group, previously developed abiological water-splitting catalysts for energy production have all lacked practicality in terms of selectivity, speed, and stability.

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Development Stage

These catalysts have been shown to oxidize water to O2 at rates superior to all other known systems and have proven to be stable to air, water, and heat.

Patent Information

App Type Country Serial No. Patent No. File Date Issued Date Patent Status
Nationalized PCT - United States United States 13/256,227 8,822,367 9/13/2011 9/2/2014 Issued
Continuation United States 14/338,384 9,833,777 7/23/2014 12/5/2017 Issued
Tech ID: 09047
Published: 8/2/2010