SCI sponsors talk by Prof Mike Lyons at ChemEd Ireland

25 Feb 2014

The ChemEd Ireland 2013 conference took place at Limerick Institute of Technology on Saturday 19 October last. An audience of almost 100 second and third level chemistry teachers attended the conference, which had the theme 'New Perspectives for Chemistry Teaching'. Participants had the chance to hear from the new Chief Examiner for Leaving Certificate Chemistry, as well as considered what might be examined in the new chemistry practical syllabus. They also heard about new ways of using technology in chemistry classes, including interactive presentations on the use of mobile phones, and workshops on molecular modelling, chemical reactivity.

The SCI-sponsored talk entitled 'Bringing the hydrogen economy closer: rusty metal electrodes for electrochemical water splitting' by Prof Mike Lyons of Trinity College Dublin's Trinity Electrochemical Energy Conversion and Electrocatalysis Group (pictured), gave the participants to hear about cutting-edge electrochemistry research at the Trinity Electrochemical Energy Conversion and Electrocatalysis Group.

Alkaline water electrolysis has been proposed as an environmentally-benign route to the production of the large volumes of hydrogen gas required to develop a hydrogen economy. In practice, the efficiency of water electrolysis is limited by the large anodic overpotential of the oxygen evolution reaction (OER). Over the past 30 years, considerable research effort has been devoted to the design, synthesis and characterisation of OER anode materials, with the aim of achieving useful rates of active oxygen evolution at the lowest possible overpotential, in order to optimise the overall electrolysis process.

This talk dealt with recent advances in electrochemical water splitting, using new electrode materials based on inexpensive transition metal oxides such as iron and nickel oxide which catalyse the anodic evolution of oxygen. The latter process has been the kinetic bottleneck in alkaline water electrolysis systems for many years and has, until now, necessitated the use of expensive metal oxides such as RuO2 to catalyse the oxygen evolution reaction effectively. Recently, electrode materials based on iron or nickel oxide have been shown to behave as effectively as RuO2 at a fraction of the price. Hence the era of cheap water electrolysis is fast approaching since many of the other engineering problems associated with electrolysis have been solved.

The proceedings of the ChemEd Ireland 2013 conference will be available shortly on the Limerick Institute of Technology website, below, and in the magazine Chemistry in Action!

The conference organiser wishes to acknowledge the sponsorship of SCI.

Gordon Armstrong
Chair, All Ireland Group

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