Strong-Proton-Adsorption Co-Based Electrocatalysts Achieve Active and Stable Neutral Seawater Splitting

Ning Wang, Pengfei Ou, Sung Fu Hung, Jianan Erick Huang, Adnan Ozden, Jehad Abed, Ivan Grigioni, Clark Chen, Rui Kai Miao, Yu Yan, Jinqiang Zhang, Ziyun Wang, Roham Dorakhan, Ahmed Badreldin, Ahmed Abdel-Wahab, David Sinton, Yongchang Liu, Hongyan Liang*, Edward H. Sargent*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Direct electrolysis of pH-neutral seawater to generate hydrogen is an attractive approach for storing renewable energy. However, due to the anodic competition between the chlorine evolution and the oxygen evolution reaction (OER), direct seawater splitting suffers from a low current density and limited operating stability. Exploration of catalysts enabling an OER overpotential below the hypochlorite formation overpotential (≈490 mV) is critical to suppress the chloride evolution and facilitate seawater splitting. Here, a proton-adsorption-promoting strategy to increase the OER rate is reported, resulting in a promoted and more stable neutral seawater splitting. The best catalysts herein are strong-proton-adsorption (SPA) materials such as palladium-doped cobalt oxide (Co3–xPdxO4) catalysts. These achieve an OER overpotential of 370 mV at 10 mA cm−2 in pH-neutral simulated seawater, outperforming Co3O4 by a margin of 70 mV. Co3–xPdxO4 catalysts provide stable catalytic performance for 450 h at 200 mA cm−2 and 20 h at 1 A cm−2 in neutral seawater. Experimental studies and theoretical calculations suggest that the incorporation of SPA cations accelerates the rate-determining water dissociation step in neutral OER pathway, and control studies rule out the provision of additional OER sites as a main factor herein.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2210057
JournalAdvanced Materials
Issue number16
StatePublished - Apr 20 2023


  • cobalt oxide
  • neutral seawater splitting
  • oxygen evolution reaction
  • strong-proton-adsorption effect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • General Materials Science


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