Acta Phys. -Chim. Sin. ›› 2023, Vol. 39 ›› Issue (2): 2209001.doi: 10.3866/PKU.WHXB202209001

• REVIEW • Previous Articles    

Recent Advances and Future Prospects on Industrial Catalysts for Green Hydrogen Production in Alkaline Media

Siran Xu1, Qi Wu3, Bang-An Lu1, Tang Tang2, Jia-Nan Zhang1,*(), Jin-Song Hu2,*()   

  1. 1 Key Laboratory of Advanced Energy Catalytic and Functional Materials Preparation, College of Materials Science and Engineering, Zhengzhou University, Zhengzhou 450001, China
    2 Beijing National Laboratory for Molecular Sciences (BNLMS), CAS Key Laboratory of Molecular Nanostructure and Nanotechnology, Institute of Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100190, China
    3 Hubei Key Laboratory of Pollutant Analysis & Reuse Technology, College of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Hubei Normal University, Huangshi 435002, Hubei Province, China
  • Received:2022-09-02 Accepted:2022-10-10 Published:2022-10-25
  • Contact: Jia-Nan Zhang,Jin-Song Hu;
  • About author:Email: (J.H.)
    Email: (J.Z.)
  • Supported by:
    the National Natural Science Foundation of China(21875221);the National Natural Science Foundation of China(U1967215);the National Natural Science Foundation of China(22025208);the Youth Talent Support Program of High-Level Talents Special Support Plan in Henan Province(ZYQR201810148);the Creative talents in the Education Department of Henan Province(19HASTIT039)


Green hydrogen is obtained by electrochemical water splitting using electricity converted from renewable energy sources. When green hydrogen undergoes combustion, it produces only water, leading to zero CO2 emissions from the source, which is important for the global energy transition. The sluggish kinetics of the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER)/oxygen evolution reaction (OER) in alkaline media have hindered an enhancement in hydrogen production from electrochemical water splitting. A detailed understanding of the alkaline reaction kinetics is important to accomplish the global mission of carbon neutrality. This review presents the theoretical kinetics for the HER and OER in alkaline media using different designed electrocatalysts, and discusses their corresponding reaction mechanisms. Subsequently, current design concepts and generalities on catalysts for water electrolysis are discussed. Enhancements in the OER activity for alkaline water electrolysis can be achieved through strategies that are classified into two major categories. In the first category, the exposure of numerous active sites is achieved by engineering the morphology and obtaining a high surface area. In the second category, the intrinsic activity of the catalyst toward the OER is enhanced by heteroatomic participation, vacancy formation, and the use of heterogeneous media. Advanced characterization techniques and in-situ testing techniques have confirmed the presence of complex oxidation media for the OER, which have a significant impact on the catalyst structure and local coordination. Research on the active sites of the catalyst, high concentrations of active species, and the design of highly efficient reaction media is required to further drive catalyst development for the OER. The evaluation of electrocatalysts exhibiting high performance at high current densities to produce green hydrogen is crucial for their implementation in industrial applications. Currently, large-scale synthesis a key technology to obtain industrial electrodes. Meanwhile, the construction of superaerophobic electrodes and three-dimensional electrodes facilitates the design of high-performance industrial catalytic electrodes. Subsequently, three different electrolytic cells that are typically used to obtain green hydrogen at the industrial scale are presented. The limitations to the design of electrolytic cells and the related solutions are also discussed. In-depth investigations on the design of either industrial electrocatalysts, commercial membranes, or electrolyzers can improve the understanding of industrial design principles to be applied to obtain industrial electrolyzers with increased efficiency, safety, and practicality. Finally, recent developments on electrocatalysts for water splitting and their limitations for industrial applications are presented to provide new perspectives and guidelines on the preparation of next-generation electrolytic catalysts.

Key words: Alkaline media, "Green hydrogen", Water splitting, Hydrogen evolution reaction, Oxygen evolution reaction, Industrial electrode, Electrolytic cell