Biomass-derived electrocatalytic composites for hydrogen evolution

Wei Fu Chen, Shilpa Iyer, Shweta Iyer, Kotaro Sasaki, Chiu Hui Wang, Yimei Zhu, James T. Muckerman, Etsuko Fujita

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

263 Citations (Scopus)


The production of hydrogen from water electrolysis calls for an efficient non-precious-metal catalyst to make the process economically viable because of the high cost and the limited supply of the currently used platinum catalysts. Here we present such a catalyst made from earth-abundant molybdenum and common, humble soybeans (MoSoy). This catalyst, composed of a catalytic β-Mo 2C phase and an acid-proof γ-Mo2N phase, drives the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) with low overpotentials, and is highly durable in a corrosive acidic solution over a period exceeding 500 hours. When supported on graphene sheets, the MoSoy catalyst exhibits very fast charge transfer kinetics, and its performance rivals that of noble-metal catalysts such as Pt for hydrogen production. These findings prove that the soybean (as well as other high-protein biomass) is a useful material for the generation of catalysts incorporating an abundant transition metal, thereby challenging the exclusivity of platinum catalysts in the hydrogen economy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1818-1826
Number of pages9
JournalEnergy and Environmental Science
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Pollution

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