Nanosheets of CuCo 2 O 4 as a high-performance electrocatalyst in urea oxidation


The urea oxidation reaction (UOR) is a possible solution to solve the world's energy crisis. Fuel cells have been used in the UOR to generate hydrogen with a lower potential compared to water splitting, decreasing the costs of energy production. Urea is abundantly present in agricultural waste and in industrial and human wastewater. Besides generating hydrogen, this reaction provides a pathway to eliminate urea, which is a hazard in the environment and to people's health. In this study, nanosheets of CuCo 2 O 4 grown on nickel foam were synthesized as an electrocatalyst for urea oxidation to generate hydrogen as a green fuel. The synthesized electrocatalyst was characterized using X-ray diffraction, scanning electron microscopy, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. The electroactivity of CuCo 2 O 4 towards the oxidation of urea in alkaline solution was evaluated using electrochemical measurements. Nanosheets of CuCo 2 O 4 grown on nickel foam required the potential of 1.36 V in 1 M KOH with 0.33 M urea to deliver a current density of 10 mA/cm 2 . The CuCo 2 O 4 electrode was electrochemically stable for over 15 h of continuous measurements. The high catalytic activities for the hydrogen evolution reaction make the CuCo 2 O 4 electrode a bifunctional catalyst and a promising electroactive material for hydrogen production. The two-electrode electrolyzer demanded a potential of 1.45 V, which was 260 mV less than that for the urea-free counterpart. Our study suggests that the CuCo 2 O 4 electrode can be a promising material as an efficient UOR catalyst for fuel cells to generate hydrogen at a low cost.

Publication Title

Applied Sciences (Switzerland)