MIT Study Found The Secret to the Reaction in Heart of Clean Energy Technologies

by Lesley J. Voss


At the core of many renewable energy devices is a process known as proton-coupled electron transfer.




Simply put, this reaction involves the movement of tiny particles called protons and electrons.

"Our advance in this paper was studying and understanding the nature of how these electrons and protons couple at a surface site, which is relevant for catalytic reactions that are important in the context of energy conversion devices or catalytic reactions"

- - Professor Yogesh Surendranath

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One of the key findings from the MIT team was that changes in the pH level of the electrolyte solution surrounding an electrode can significantly influence the rate at which protons and electrons move within the electrode.


The researchers found that the reaction rates are highest at the extreme ends of the pH scale – very acidic (pH 0) and very basic (pH 14) conditions.

However, the rate at pH 0 (the most acidic) is about four times faster than at pH 14 (the most basic).

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The MIT team is now exploring how different types of ions added to the electrolyte solution can impact the rate of this crucial reaction. This  research holds promise for enhancing the efficiency of renewable energy technologies