A Durable Ni-Sn Aerogel Catalyst for Electrochemical Hydrogen Evolution Reaction (HER) in Water Splitting

Unmet Need: Abundant and low cost catalysts for Hydrogen Evolution Reaction

Accommodating the surplus energy from off-peak hours and intermittent electricity from non-dispatchable renewable energy requires efficient energy storage and conversion devices. One of the most promising solutions is to directly convert electricity into hydrogen fuel via water splitting. However, practical water splitting applications are hindered by the high cost and resource scarcity issues of the platinum group metals (PGMs) that are vital catalysts for the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) and oxygen evolution reaction (OER) in electrolysis. Despite having good catalytic activity, the catalysts break down over long-term operation. The search for cost-effective and high-performance alternatives is critical to the success of water electrolysis technologies.

The Technology: Use of low cost Ni, Sn based catalysts for water splitting

WSU researchers have developed a new method to synthesize NixSny metal aerogel catalyst for hydrogen production by water splitting. WSU researchers used low-cost metals like Ni, Sn to significantly reduce cost, and designed stable and nanostructured alloy catalysts to achieve high catalytic activity. Due to their unique bimetallic aerogel structure, the aerogel catalysts based on earth abundant elements (Lin et. al, Nature Energy, 2020, https://news.wsu.edu/press-release/2020/03/09/water-splitting-advance-holds-promise-affordable-renewable-energy/) offer comparable performance at 90% less cost compared with commercial catalysts. These NixSny catalysts maintain 20% higher activity than commercial Pt catalysts after the same working hours, meeting the market's demand for cheaper and abundant alternatives to expensive catalysts.


  • Catalyst manufacturing
  • Electrolyzer production
  • Fuel cells, batteries, and thermal catalysis applications


  • Low cost catalytic material for HER
  • Higher activity compared to current commercial catalysts
  • Simple and fast synthesis method
  • Unique bi-metallic aerogel structure

Patent Information:

Provisional patent application has been filed.

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Rabindra Nanda
Technology Licensing Associate Senior
Washington State University
(509) 335-8608
Reference No: TECH-22/3444


Yuehe Lin
Dan Du
Hangyu Tian

Key Words

Catalysis for Energy
Clean Tech
Water Splitting