Researchers C Sathiskumar, C Alex and Neena S John at the Centre for Nano and Soft Matter Sciences, a unit of the Department of Science and Technology, have developed a catalyst to make low-cost hydrogen peroxide, a useful chemical. They synthesised a composite chemical called nickel cobalt phosphite (NiCo-Phi) decorated with carbon nanotubes. The chemical functioned as a catalyst for two reactions — oxygen evolution and oxygen reduction. Usually, reduction reactions — gaining electrons — of transition metal phosphorous oxy compounds end up in the formation of hydroxyl. However, in this reaction, because the catalyst allowed two-electron transfer instead of four-electron transfer, the researchers could “tune” the reaction for the production of hydrogen peroxide. The yield was high, researchers say.
Hydrogen peroxide is used as a sanitiser and oral disinfectant, but also as rocket fuel. A Mumbai-based start-up, called Manastu Space, is working on hydrogen peroxide-based ‘green’ propulsion technology for rockets.