Resnick Institute

2018 Resonate Award Winner

Xile Hu

Resonate Award recipient for developing abundant and non-precious metal catalysts for sustainable synthesis of added-value chemicals and cost-effective production of solar fuels

Xile Hu

The Challenge

Renewable energies such as solar and wind are intermittent and require efficient storage solutions before they can be implemented on a massive scale. Water splitting is widely proposed as an attractive method to store energy in the form of hydrogen fuel. Efficient electrocatalysts for both the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) and the oxygen evolution reaction (OER) are needed for water splitting, and currently the best catalysts are made of precious metals. In order to match the scale of global energy consumption, catalysts should be made of Earth-abundant elements.

The Response

Xile Hu has made many original and innovative contributions to the development of abundant and non-precious metal water splitting catalysis. He discovered many new classes of catalysts including amorphous molybdenum sulfide, molybdenum boride, molybdenum carbide for HER as well as nickel phosphide and nickel iron selenide precatalysts for OER. He championed the use of amorphous electrocatalysts and pioneered the studies of single-layered metal oxides in OER catalysis. He derived new techniques to integrate electrocatalysts with photo absorbers, reaching benchmark efficiencies.

The Future

Through continued innovations and scholarly work in electrocatalysis, Xile Hu’s group is well poised to create superior electrocatalysts for not only water splitting, but also CO2 reduction and fuel cell reactions. These electrocatalysts will enable efficient renewable energy conversion and storage devices, addressing a grand challenge towards a sustainable society.