DST-CeNS scientists find new, simpler method to produce hydrogen peroxide using electrons

Pune: Scientists have found an efficient and inexpensive method for producing hydrogen peroxide, the chemical that has uses ranging from environmental, surgical, and oral disinfection to propellant in rocketry. Hydrogen peroxide (chemical formula H2O2) with its wide variety of utilities including medical, cosmetic, water treatment, industrial, and house-hold products became an essential component for sanitisers during the recent pandemic. However, there is need for efficient and inexpensive H2O2 production as the present industrial process for the synthesis of H2O2 involves an energy-intensive reaction via anthraquinone oxidation/reduction, and requires complex and large-scale infrastructure.

An alternate electrochemical route to generate H2O2 proceeds through oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) in the two-electron pathway which requires a suitable catalyst. Recently, researchers from Centre for Nano and Soft Matter Sciences (CeNS) an autonomous research institute under the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India have shown that a chemical called Nickel Cobalt Phosphite (NiCo-Phi) decorated with carbon nanotubes (CNTs) can facilitate ORR to produce H2O2 selectively in high yield. The CeNS team demonstrated the bifunctional catalytic nature of NiCo-Phi/CNTs composite for both oxygen evolution (OER) and oxygen reduction reactions. The paper was published in the journal ChemElectroChem.

The CeNS team consisting of C. Sathiskumar, C. Alex, and Neena S. John synthesised the composite by employing a simple, single-step hydrothermal method. According to the researchers, the transition metal salts of phosphorous oxyacids are considered attractive for electrocatalytic applications due to their earth abundance, low cost, environmentally benign nature, and high efficiency. The predominant formation of H2O2 occurs mainly through a two-electron transfer process, as established by experimental observations, and has not been observed previously in these phosphorous oxy anion-based materials.

The authors further claim that “Generally most of the transition metal phosphorus oxy compounds follow O2 reduction by 4 electron process with OH formation, instead of H2O2 while here, we are able to tune the O2 reduction for H2O2 production, which has huge significance in the present scenario.”

Dr. Neena Susan John can be contacted for more details at jsneena@cens.res.in


This information was provided by the Communications Team at the Dept. of Science & Technology, Ministry of Science & Technology.


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