Electrocatalyst from University of Grenoble contains graphene acid instead of rare metals, contributing to the creation of a scalable hydrogen fuel cell.


  • Noble metal-free
  • Reduced costs


  • Residential and commercial energy generation
  • Fuel cells

UN Sustainable Development Goals Addressed

  • Goal 9: Industry Innovation & Infrastructure

The Challenge

Hydrogen gas is a crucial industrial chemical used to produce fertilizer and fuel. In addition, it is a safe, high-energy molecule that can be used in fuel cells or to store energy produced by inconsistent power sources like solar and wind. However, most of the hydrogen produced today is reliant on fossil fuels. A promising method for producing carbon-free hydrogen from renewable sources is electrolysis, in which electricity is used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. Unfortunately, the majority of industrial-scale electrolysis machinery currently in use needs platinum as a to generate energy through oxidation. Platinum is extremely rare and therefore expensive to use. Additionally, harvesting platinum requires mining processes that generate waste and consume large amounts of water and electricity.

Innovation Details

The electrocatalyst is made of a nickel bis-diphosphine core, which undergoes noncovalent immobilization, where graphene acid is used as an electrode scaffold. The properties of nickel bis-diphosphine as well as this process of catalyst optimization results in a high-performance molecular hydrogen oxidation reaction. Using this electrocatalyst, hydrogen gas can be produced affordably and with clean energy, without platinum.

Biomimicry Story

Hydrogenase enzymes the electrolysis of water into hydrogen and oxygen. They can be divided into three phylogenetically distinct classes, that is, [NiFe], [FeFe], and [Fe] hydrogenases, according to the type of catalytically active metal center.