Source: People's Friendship University of RussiaSource: People's Friendship University of Russia

Distilled water and a type of Chinese flour are the simple ingredients used by an international research team to cook up an electrode for electrocatalytic production of hydrogen.

The porous carbon electrode material is based on fermented flour used for baking a specific type of Chinese bread. The wheat flour, containing only 1% of yeast, is mixed with distilled water, applied in a thin layer on a teflon surface and maintained at 80° C for one hour to fix its form. Subsequent heating in an autoclave up to 350° C secures the durability and high porosity of the samples. Nitrogen-doped carbon is produced by baking the material in a nitrogen environment at 700° C to 1,000° C.

An electrode for electrocatalytic hydrogen production was assembled from a piece of the new material and a stainless steel wire. The porous 3D structure of the material imparted catalytic properties, as evidenced by the rapid penetration of reagents into pores, leading to electrocatalytic activity greater than currently known carbon-based catalysts and comparable to metal ones. The best results were demonstrated with material heated to the highest temperature of 1,000° C.

The flour-based technique was shown to enable low-cost, simple fabrication of carbon electrodes with tunable pore sizes and surface areas. Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, University of Science and Technology of China, Universidad de Córdoba Campus de Rabanales (Spain) and People's Friendship University of Russia contributed to this development, which is reported in Electrochimica Acta.

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