The conversion of solar energy into chemical fuel is one of the “Holy Grails” of twenty-first century chemistry. Solar energy can be used to split water into oxygen and protons, which are then used to make hydrogen fuel. Nature is able to catalyze both the oxygen evolution reaction (OER) and the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) required for the conversion of solar energy into chemical fuel through the employment of enzymes that are composed of inexpensive transition metals. Instead of using expensive catalysts such as platinum, cheaper alternatives (such as cobalt, iron, or nickel) would provide the opportunity to make solar energy competitive with fossil fuels. However, obtaining efficient catalysts based on earth-abundant materials is still a daunting task. In this chapter, we review the advancements made with zirconium phosphate (ZrP) as a support for earth-abundant transition metals for the OER. Our studies have found that ZrP is a suitable support for transition metals as it provides an accessible surface where the OER can occur. Further findings have also shown that exfoliation of ZrP increases the availability of sites where active species can be adsorbed and performance is improved with this strategy.
Part of the book: Water Chemistry