Nickel is a versatile and essential catalyst in many chemical reactions. Its unique properties, including high reactivity, selectivity, and abundance, make it an attractive option for industrial-
scale catalysis. From the refining of crude oil to the production of hydrogen, nickel catalysts play a vital role in many industries, driving progress towards a cleaner and more sustainable
Nickel catalysts are used in petroleum refining, where they help to break down complex hydrocarbons into simpler molecules that can be used to produce different chemicals, such as polyethylene, – a plastic used in various products, from bags to containers. Also, nickel catalysts are sometimes employed in the production of ammonia, methanol, and acetic acid.
One of the most important applications of nickel catalysts is in the production of hydrogen gas. Hydrogen is a clean and versatile fuel that can power fuel cells and combustion engines with
zero emissions. Nickel catalysts are used in the production of hydrogen through steam reforming, where natural gas or other hydrocarbons are reacted with steam to produce hydrogen and carbon dioxide. The nickel catalysts (modified with other metals, often Platinum Group Metals) used in this process have high activity and selectivity, meaning they can efficiently convert the reactants into hydrogen with minimal side reactions.
Nickel-based catalysts are commonly used in conventional water electrolyzers to enhance the reaction rate and improve the efficiency of the process. In water electrolysis, an electrode is placed in an aqueous electrolyte, often potassium hydroxide. An electric current is passed through the electrode, causing the water molecules to split into hydrogen and oxygen gases.
The hydrogen gas is collected at the cathode, while the oxygen gas is collected at the anode.
The use of nickel catalysts in water electrolysis is an active area of research, with ongoing efforts to develop more efficient and durable catalysts.
NIKEFFECT project explores the use of Ni-based electrodes with ordered and pseudo-ordered porosity as efficient as Pt-free catalysts for water electrolyzers with improved catalytic activity and stability.