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2023. 12. 04 -

Contribution to green energy: a chemist, who extracts hydrogen, P. Gaigalas defends his PhD

Dr. Paulius Gaigalas. Photo: FTMC
Paulius Gaigalas, a researcher of the Department of Electrochemical Material Science at FTMC, has been awarded a PhD degree. His topic is "Synthesis and characterization of effective nanoplatelet structure catalysts for electrochemical water splitting" (academic supervisor: Dr. Arūnas Jagminas).
Congratulations to our colleague and best wishes for the way forward!
The researcher's work will hopefully contribute to the development of green energy, in particular the use of hydrogen as a fuel. Hydrogen is produced around the world, but it requires a lot of fossil fuels, which of course is not environmentally friendly or healthy. So one has to find other ways.
One of these is electrocatalytic water splitting - the extraction of hydrogen from plain water. This requires a catalyst (a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction), and platinum is the most suitable here. This method is sustainable and environmentally friendly - but platinum is a very expensive and rare metal that factories cannot afford to buy.
This has led to a search for other materials that are cheaper and easier to produce.
"One such promising material is molybdenum disulfide (MoS2 ). It is known to be somewhat catalytic, so we are looking at ways to further increase its efficiency and stability in the hydrogen evolution reaction. All my research revolves around this," says Paulius.
(Molybdenum disulfide-coated cathodes for the extraction of hydrogen from water. Photo: FTMC)
He uses this technique to produce hydrogen in one of FTMC laboratories. Water splitting consists of two reactions: hydrogen and oxygen evolution. Hydrogen atoms are 'trapped' on a cathode immersed in water and coated with MoS2 . This whole process requires electricity.
"In this thesis, we investigated the effect of amino acids on the MoS2 catalyst. We found that the MoS2  coatings are more stable when these acids are used, and do not decay as quickly during hydrogen evolution as they would normally do without amino acids. In addition, the activity of the electrochemical reaction itself is improved.
What I do is a hot topic in the world, and many people are working on it, so we need to find ways to improve the performance of MoS2 . And we have found a way to do it simply and easily," says FTMC chemist.
FTMC information
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