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Biohydrogen: Electrocatalytic hydrogen production using vitamin B12 models


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​​​​​​​​​Researchers at the Chemistry and Biology of Metals Laboratory​ seeking alternative solutions to the use of platinum in hydrogen production have shown that cobaloxime [Co(dmgBF2)2(OH2)2] (dmgH2 = dimethylglyoxime) is an effective catalyst for proton reduction in organic media with a low activation potential; they have suggested a unified mechanistic scheme involving metal-hydride derivatives.
Published on 2 April 2007

​In a world set to see the growth of a hydrogen-based economy, a key priority​ has to be the development of new catalysts that would bypass the use of platinum in hydrogen production systems (low temperature electrolysers). Researchers at the Laboratory of Metals in Chemical and Biology used the strong nucleophilic properties of cobaloximes, cobalt bis-glyoxime complexes (see figure) initially developed as biomimetic cobalamine (vitamin B12) models, to catalyze the reduction of protons to dihydrogen with quite low overvoltages. The catalytic mechanism is as follows: electrochemically reduced to the cobalt(I) state, the cobaloxime protonates generating a cobalt(III) hydride complex that protonates again to evolve dihydrogen.


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