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Major Clean Energy Breakthrough Made by School of Chemistry Researchers

New material will increase adoption of hydrogen as a fuel in energy efficient transportation

The development of a real alternative to fossil fuels is perhaps the greatest technological challenge faced by humanity at present. Now, researchers in the School of Chemistry and CRANN (the Nanoscience Institute based at Trinity College Dublin) have developed a material which enhances the splitting of water at a very low energy cost using earth abundant raw materials. This new material performs as well as the world’s most effective material for water splitting (which is the scarce and expensive ruthenium oxide) but is much less expensive. This is a significant breakthrough, as it means that an energy efficient production of pure hydrogen is now possible using renewable energy sources which will potentially accelerate adoption of hydrogen as a fuel in energy efficient transportation.

Hydrogen has been described as the ultimate clean energy source, it’s seen as very attractive as it is a pollution free fuel and energy carrier which would satisfy much of the energy requirements of our society. Hydrogen is readily prepared by splitting water electrically into its component parts hydrogen and oxygen (a process called electrolysis). However, this process requires a significant energy input. The widespread uptake of hydrogen as a fuel has been hampered by the lack of low cost, earth abundant materials which can accomplish the splitting of water, with minimal energy input, in an economically efficient manner using renewable energy sources.

The CRANN breakthrough recently published in the prestigious international journal ACS Catalysis, has shown that the ruthenium content can be decreased by as much as 90% and substituted with the earth abundant and inexpensive manganese oxide without diminishing the efficiency of the material to split water.

Professor Mike Lyons, Principal Investigator at the School of Chemistry and CRANN : “We are very excited about this very significant breakthrough. The adoption of this material in industry will mean that electrochemical hydrogen generation using photo (electrolysis) is now far more economically viable and will hasten adoption of hydrogen as a fuel in energy efficient transportation. It should be noted that this discovery could only have been accomplished using the world class characterization facilities and opportunity for interdisciplinary collaboration available within the School of Chemistry and CRANN.”

Mike Lyons, continued: “Our disruptive materials breakthrough is momentous as it means much more energetically efficient and more economical hydrogen energy. This means that the cost of producing hydrogen via water electrolysis will be significantly reduced, which will result in a more rapid uptake of hydrogen as an automotive fuel.”

Professor Mike Lyons leads the Trinity Electrochemical Energy Conversion and Electrocatalysis Group in the School of Chemistry. He has published two books and more than 126 papers, and has a h-index of 33, which demonstrates the worldwide impact of his research. Working with Professor Mike Lyons on this project, was Professor Paula Colavita, PI in the School of Chemistry/ CRANN, and Michelle Browne, PhD student. Characterisation of the materials were carried out by Dr. Hugo Nolan, supervised by Professor Georg Duesberg, PI in the School of Chemistry and CRANN.

The full review is available here.

1st Medicinal Chemistry Ireland Conference
(July 1st, 2016, Trinity College Dublin)

The Pharmaceutical and Medicinal sectors are of enormous importance for the Irish economy. Academic and industrial research and development in this area will sustain Ireland’s position and as a key player in the global landscape.

Trinity’s School of Chemistry is proud to announce the 1st Medicinal Chemistry Conference Ireland which will be held on 1st July 2016 in Trinity’s Biomedical Science Institute. The conference programme draws together key speakers across academia with innovative researchers from industry.

For a full conference programme and registration details for the event, please visit

Congratulations to Ilaria Meazzini
for winning the prize for best talk at the
RSC MacroGroup Young Researchers Meeting at the University of Liverpool.

Ilaria Meazzini (Evans Group) was awarded first prize in the “best talk” category (sponsored by Domino printing) at the 2016 RSC Macrogroup Young Researchers meeting held at the University of Liverpool on 5-6th April. Ilaria presented her work on perylene dicarboxdiimide–poly(oxyalkylene)/siloxane hybrids for luminescent solar concentrators, which was recently accepted for publication in the 2016 Emerging Investigators issue of the Journal of Materials Chemistry C.

Targeted design leads to tunable photoluminescence from perylene dicarboxdiimide–poly(oxyalkylene)/siloxane hybrids for luminescent solar concentrators, I. Meazzini, N. Willis-Fox, C. Blayo, J. Arlt, S. Clément, R. C. Evans*, J. Mater. Chem. C., 2016, DOI: 10.1039/c5tc03952e.

Well done, Ilaria!

2016 Newly Elected Fellows and Scholars
Trinity Monday Announcements

FELLOWSHIP: Congratulations to Prof. Eoin Scanlan on his election as Fellow to the College on Trinity Monday.

SCHOLARS: Congratulations to all the students who were elected as Scholars of the College on Trinity Monday and in particular to the students who sat the Chemistry Scholar examinations*.

Aoife Gregg*
Eoin James Farrell*
Simon Benson
Jessica Foley
Áine Kennedy
Diarmaid Kelly

Trinity Student Scientific Review (TSSR) Journal
– Volume 2 – launched March 22nd



Congratulations to Alison Hennessy for her work as General Manager and to Kate Reidy for her outstanding work in her role as Chemistry Editor and to all the Chemistry undergraduates who submitted an article for publication, in the new TSSR (Trinity Student Scientific Review) ( Journal.

The authors of the published and price winning chemistry review articles were:

Best Chemistry Essay:
“Climate Change Mitigation Using Metal-Organic Frameworks for Direct Air Capture of CO2”.
Dónal Ring (JS Chemistry)

Best Freshman Essay:
“Prebiotic Chemistry: Common Origins of Glycerol, Amino Acids, and Pyrimidines, and Cosmic Origin of Nature’s Enantiomeric Excess of Amino Acids”
Stephen Byrne (SF Science)

“4-Aminoquinolines as Antimalarial Drugs”
Dylan Lynch (JS Medicinal Chemistry) 

Chemistry students also won in the following categories:

“Hybrid Photovoltaic Thermal Cells: A Viable Solution to the Problem of Renewable Energy”
Kyle Frohna (JS N-PCAM, Physics)

“Long Non-Coding RNA: The Regulatory Web of Genome Regulation”
Jack Schofield, (SF Science, Life Sciences)

Alison Hennessy TSSRTSSR Kate Reidy TSSR
Alison Hennessy (JS N-PCAM) and Kate Reidy (JS NPCAM student and TCD Foundation Scholar) the 2016 TSSR General Manager and Chemistry Editor.

Congratulations to Maria O’Brien on being selected to attend
the 66th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Lindau, Germany this summer

Maria O’Brien (Duesberg's Group) has been selected by the scientific review panel of the Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings, to participate in the 66th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, taking place from 26 June to 1 July 2016, in Lindau Germany. Only the 400 most qualified young scientists are given the opportunity to enrich and share the unique atmosphere of the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings (which will have 32 Nobel Laureates in attendance).

Congratulations, Maria.

Last updated 23 May 2016 by School of Chemistry (Email).