Christmas tree nanostructure discovered for ascorbic acid oxidation

A unique nanostructure has been discovered and proved to be highly effective in the ascorbic acid oxidation process.  

Fabrication process 

Nanostructured metal is known to have both physical and chemical properties, which has inspired scientific interest for this to be used for heterogeneous catalysis, biosensors and electrocatalysis. The fabrication process involved in creating this metal can influence the shape and size of the nanostructures that are generated during oxidation.

The electrochemical deposition technique is used to ensure clean metal nanostructures. It is this method that creates the many sharp edges like those on a Christmas tree, thus creating the palladium nanostructure that enhanced the catalytic activity for ascorbic acid oxidation.  

From this process, Dr Yuki Nagao from Japan’s Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, and Md. Mahmuldul Hasan, a PhD student from the same institution, have been able to design a catalysis performance that could be enhanced by controlling the morphology of the catalyst. This means that they were able to establish the optimum conditions required in order to achieve the desired results required to enhance the catalytic activity for ascorbic acid oxidation. 

The unique nanostructures exhibit excellent electrocatalytic oxidation of ascorbic acid when compared to the unmodified method previously used in the 1 M KOH solution. Both Nagao and Hasan note that the multiple sharp edges observed in the nanostructures improved the electrocatalytic performance. This brings scientists one step closer to successfully constructing an alkaline ascorbic acid based direct liquid fuel cell.  

“Improving the electrocatalytic performance of ascorbic acid electro oxidation could provide cleaner energy by constructing alkaline ascorbic acid based direct light fuel cell.” explained Hasan. 

Environmental impact from ascorbic acid oxidation 

The energy crisis has detrimentally inflated, due to falling supply and rising demand. Data from Gas Infrastructure Europe shows that the continent’s access to the resources needed to create the energy required to supply the population is at 75% of what it was last year. The levels have not been this low since 2013, which contributes towards the public’s fear of going cold over Christmas.

Furthermore, climate change is said to be reaching the make-or-break point, meaning that the window of opportunity for action to reverse the negative impact pollution has had on the climate is closing sooner rather than later. It is for this reason that the ascorbic acid electro oxidation process discovered by Nagao and Hasan is so critical. 

To aid both the energy crisis and the detrimental issues with climate change, clean energy sources need to be explored and established urgently. The direct light fuel cell established by Nagao and Hasan could be a potential candidate for the new energy source with its simple cell design. This is because ascorbic acid is a feasible fuel source for the direct light fuel cell, as it generates two electrons and two protons along with green dehydroascorbic acid during its electro oxidation, thus making it environmentally friendly.

As well as this, ascorbic acid is also more affordable and therefore can be used and adapted as a clean energy source worldwide. Making this commercially available could therefore make a significant contribution towards tackling both the energy crisis and climate change concerns.  

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