EPJ D Highlight - Producing hydrogen from splitting water without splitting hairs

Adsorption of water molecules on the surface of copper nanoparticles could produce hydrogen faster and more efficiently.

New model explains interactions between small copper clusters used as low-cost catalysts in the production of hydrogen by breaking down water molecules

Copper nanoparticles dispersed in water or in the form of coatings have a range of promising applications, including lubrication, ink jet printing, as luminescent probes, exploiting their antimicrobial and antifungal activity, and in fuel cells. Another promising application is using copper as a catalyst to split water molecules and form molecular hydrogen in gaseous form. At the heart of the reaction, copper-water complexes are synthesised in ultra-cold helium nanodroplets as part of the hydrogen production process, according to a recent paper published in EPJ D. For its authors, Stefan Raggl, from the University of Innsbruck, Austria, and colleagues, splitting water like this is a good way of avoiding splitting hairs.

Previous work showed that at the molecular level, water oxidises copper nanoparticles until their surface is saturated with molecules carrying hydrogen (called hydroxyl groups). Theoretical work further showed that a monolayer of water, once adsorbed on the copper particles, spontaneously converts to a half-monolayer of hydroxide (OH) plus half a monolayer of water while releasing hydrogen gas.

In their study, Raggl and colleagues synthesised neutral copper-water complexes by successively doping helium nano-droplets -- which are kept at the ultra-cold temperature of 0.37 K in a state referred to as superfluid -- with copper atoms and water molecules. These droplets are then ionised by electrons. The authors show that the composition of the most prominent ions depends on the partial copper and water pressures in the cell where the reaction occurs. They observe ions containing several copper atoms and several dozen water molecules.

The authors recognise that they failed to directly observe the predicted hydrogen formation because their instrument is not designed to detect electrically neutral entities.

This was our first experience of publishing with EPJ Web of Conferences. We contacted the publisher in the middle of September, just one month prior to the Conference, but everything went through smoothly. We have had published MNPS Proceedings with different publishers in the past, and would like to tell that the EPJ Web of Conferences team was probably the best, very quick, helpful and interactive. Typically, we were getting responses from EPJ Web of Conferences team within less than an hour and have had help at every production stage.
We are very thankful to Solange Guenot, Web of Conferences Publishing Editor, and Isabelle Houlbert, Web of Conferences Production Editor, for their support. These ladies are top-level professionals, who made a great contribution to the success of this issue. We are fully satisfied with the publication of the Conference Proceedings and are looking forward to further cooperation. The publication was very fast, easy and of high quality. My colleagues and I strongly recommend EPJ Web of Conferences to anyone, who is interested in quick high-quality publication of conference proceedings.

On behalf of the Organizing and Program Committees and Editorial Team of MNPS-2019, Dr. Alexey B. Nadykto, Moscow State Technological University “STANKIN”, Moscow, Russia. EPJ Web of Conferences vol. 224 (2019)

ISSN: 2100-014X (Electronic Edition)

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