Scientists at the Institute of Nano Science and Technology (INST), Mohali, an autonomous institute under the Department of Science and Technology have recently come up with an efficient, low-cost electro-catalyst from fish gills that can help develop environmentally friendly energy conversion devices. “This bio-inspired carbon nanostructure can help overcome the bottleneck in the realisation of several renewable energy conversion and storage technologies such as fuel cell, biofuel cell, and metal−air batteries,” it said in a statement.
The present strategy enriches a route to synthesize low-cost, highly efficient bioinspired electrocatalyst that is better than commercial Platinum on carbon (Pt/C) catalyst and could be utilised as next-generation nonprecious carbon-based electrocatalyst for energy conversion and storage applications
Dr. Ramendra Sundar Dey and his team from INST have explored a highly active Oxygen Reduction Reaction (ORR) electrocatalyst based on binary transition metals Iron (Fe), and Manganese (Mn) and N-doped porous carbon (Fe, Mn, N-FGC), derived from fish gills (FG) acquired as animal waste, which has a unique porous structure and could provide conductive carbon networks after heat treatment and could be an efficient electrode material. The catalyst was able to show active oxygen reduction reaction in a wide range of pH (pH < 1, 7, and >13) and outperformed the commercial Pt/C catalyst.
“They fabricated a homemade rechargeable Zn−air battery (ZAB) with the catalyst as an air cathode, which showed almost stable charge−discharge voltage plateaus after rigorous cycling for a long duration. It surpassed the commercial Pt/C based ZAB performance,” it added.
The researchers have suggested that the careful selection of transition metals and heteroatoms together with engineering the synthesis protocol can pave a new way for exploring highly active low-cost electrocatalysts for efficient and environmentally friendly energy conversion devices.