NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ1003238
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Dec
Pages: 5
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 10
ISSN: ISSN-0021-9584
Electrochemical Hydrogen Evolution: Sabatier's Principle and the Volcano Plot
Laursen, Anders B.; Varela, Ana Sofia; Dionigi, Fabio; Fanchiu, Hank; Miller, Chandler; Trinhammer, Ole L.; Rossmeisl, Jan; Dahl, Soren
Journal of Chemical Education, v89 n12 p1595-1599 Dec 2012
The electrochemical hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) is growing in significance as society begins to rely more on renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power. Thus, research on designing new, inexpensive, and abundant HER catalysts is important. Here, we describe how a simple experiment combined with results from density functional theory (DFT) can be used to introduce the Sabatier principle and its importance when designing new catalysts for the HER. We also describe the difference between reactivity and catalytic activity of solid surfaces and explain how DFT is used to predict new catalysts based on this. Suited for upper-level high school and first-year university students, this exercise involves using a basic two-cell electrochemical setup to test multiple electrode materials as catalysts at one applied potential, and then constructing a volcano curve with the resulting currents. The curve visually shows students that the best HER catalysts are characterized by an optimal hydrogen binding energy (reactivity), as stated by the Sabatier principle. In addition, students may use this volcano curve to predict the activity of an untested catalyst solely from the catalyst reactivity. This exercise circumvents the complexity of traditional experiments while it still demonstrates the trends of the HER volcano known from literature. (Contains 1 table and 4 figures.)
Division of Chemical Education, Inc and ACS Publications Division of the American Chemical Society. 1155 Sixteenth Street NW, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 800-227-5558; Tel: 202-872-4600; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A