DOI: 10.1002/smll.202305289 ISSN:

An Amiable Design of Cobalt Single Atoms as the Active Sites for Oxygen Evolution Reaction in Desalinated Seawater

Sada Venkateswarlu, Muhammad Umer, Younghu Son, Saravanan Govindaraju, Gayathri Chellasamy, Atanu Panda, Juseong Park, Sohaib Umer, Jeonghyeon Kim, Sang‐Il Choi, Kyusik Yun, Minyoung Yoon, Geunsik Lee, Myung Jong Kim
  • Biomaterials
  • Biotechnology
  • General Materials Science
  • General Chemistry


Green fuel from water splitting is hardcore for future generations, and the limited source of fresh water (<1%) is a bottleneck. Seawater cannot be used directly as a feedstock in current electrolyzer techniques. Until now single atom catalysts were reported by many synthetic strategies using notorious chemicals and harsh conditions. A cobalt single‐atom (CoSA) intruding cobalt oxide ultrasmall nanoparticle (Co3O4 USNP)‐intercalated porous carbon (PC) (CoSA‐Co3O4@PC) electrocatalyst was synthesized from the waste orange peel as a single feedstock (solvent/template). The extended X‐ray absorption fine structure spectroscopy (EXAFS) and theoretical fitting reveal a clear picture of the coordination environment of the CoSA sites (CoSA‐Co3O4 and CoSA‐N4 in PC). To impede the direct seawater corrosion and chlorine evolution the seawater has been desalinated (Dseawater) with minimal cost and the obtained PC is used as an adsorbent in this process. CoSA‐Co3O4@PC shows high oxygen evolution reaction (OER) activity in transitional metal impurity‐free (TMIF) 1 M KOH and alkaline Dseawater. CoSA‐Co3O4@PC exhibits mass activity that is 15 times higher than the commercial RuO2. Theoretical interpretations suggest that the optimized CoSA sites in Co3O4 USNPs reduce the energy barrier for alkaline water dissociation and simultaneously trigger an excellent OER followed by an adsorbate evolution mechanism (AEM).

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