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Advanced Carbon Journal

Home / Journals / Nanotechnology / Advanced Carbon Journal

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Received: Feb. 23, 2024; Accepted: Mar. 06, 2024; Published Online: Apr. 07, 2024

Carbon Based Supports for Metal Nanoparticles for Hydrogen Generation Reactions Review

Tarek  M. Abdel-Fattah* and  Erik Biehler

Applied Research Center at Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility and Department of Molecular Biology and Chemistry at Christopher Newport University, Newport News, VA 23606, USA


Metal Nanoparticles , Carbon spheres, Graphene, Catalysis, Hydrogen.


Hydrogen represents a highly promising alternative to fossil fuels due to its exceptional attributes. As the most abundant element in the universe, it holds the potential to revolutionize the energy landscape. When combusted, it generates energy, and the byproduct of this process is simply water, making it an environmentally friendly choice. The adoption of hydrogen as a fuel source has faced constraints primarily related to hydrogen storage technology. Nevertheless, innovative solutions are emerging, such as hydrogen feedstock materials like sodium borohydride (NaBH4), which could offer effective storage capabilities. NaBH4 is particularly noteworthy for containing 10.8% hydrogen by weight and for its ability to release hydrogen gas when reacting with water. Although this release occurs at a relatively slow rate, the introduction of a catalyst could enhance the efficiency of hydrogen production. This comprehensive review endeavors to evaluate the catalytic efficacy of metal nanoparticles when paired with environmentally sustainable catalyst support materials derived from fused carbon microspheres and graphene-like materials. These support materials, sourced from renewable origins, will be intricately combined with a spectrum of metal nanoparticles, encompassing gold, silver, platinum, palladium, and copper nanoparticles. The overarching objective is to investigate how these synergistic combinations can catalyze the expedited release of hydrogen from sodium borohydride, thereby contributing to the streamlined and efficient production of this clean and abundant energy source.

Graphical Abstract

To cite this article

Abdel-Fattah, T., & Biehler, E. (2024). Carbon Based Supports for Metal Nanoparticles for Hydrogen Generation Reactions Review. Advanced Carbon Journal, 1(1), 1–19.


The undeniable reality of Earth's finite resources underscores the pressing need for a paradigm shift in our approach to global energy consumption. With the current global population standing at approximately 8.1 billion and projections indicating an increase to 8.5 billion by 2030 and a further surge to 9.7 billion by 2050 [1], the impending challenges related to resource scarcity become increasingly apparent.

This population expansion is poised to trigger a substantial surge in global energy demand, creating a formidable obstacle to sustainability. What amplifies this concern is the stark fact that a staggering 83.4% of the world's energy supply still heavily depends on fossil fuels, as graphically depicted in Figure 1. This heavy reliance on non-renewable energy sources raises critical environmental concerns, urging a reevaluation of our energy infrastructure and a compelling call to transition toward cleaner, more sustainable alternatives.

The consequences of maintaining such a significant dependence on fossil fuels are manifold, encompassing environmental degradation, climate change, and geopolitical tensions. As we grapple with these challenges, there arises an urgent need to explore and adopt alternative energy sources that can mitigate the environmental impact and contribute to a more resilient and sustainable energy future.

This juncture underscores the importance of a concerted effort to invest in and transition towards renewable energy technologies, such as solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal power. By diversifying our energy portfolio and reducing reliance on fossil fuels, we can pave the way for a more sustainable, environmentally friendly future. This shift is not just a technological imperative but a moral obligation to safeguard the well-being of our planet for future generations.

Therefore, the intersection of a growing global population, escalating energy demands, and the predominant reliance on fossil fuels necessitates a decisive shift towards sustainable and cleaner energy sources. The urgency of this transition cannot be overstated, and concerted global efforts are paramount to address the imminent challenges posed by resource limitations and environmental degradation.

Figure 1. Global energy consumption by source [2].

Fossil Fuels

Our reliance on fossil fuels as a primary energy source presents two critical challenges. First and foremost, fossil fuels, formed over millions of years, are depleting rapidly due to our current consumption rates. While the exact timeline of when these reserves will be exhausted remains a subject of debate, some models suggest that oil, gas, and coal may be depleted in as little as 35, 37, and 105 years, respectively [3]. This impending scarcity underscores the urgency of transitioning to alternative energy sources.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Figure 2. Smoke produced during industrial activity. 

The second, and perhaps more pressing, issue is the detrimental impact of fossil fuels on our environment. The burning of fossil fuels is a primary source of greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O) [4]. Since 1751, it’s estimated that the combustion of fossil fuels has released a staggering 337 billion metric tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere [5]. This trend is poised to continue, with global greenhouse gas emissions, measured in gigatons of equivalent CO2 (GtCO2e), projected to surge to 63.1 GtCO2e in 2030 and a worrisome 73.6 GtCO2e by 2050 [6]. Such a trajectory could lead to a substantial temperature increase of 3-4 ˚C, with catastrophic consequences for our environment [7].

Therefore, finding a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels is not merely a choice but an imperative for the health of our planet.

Renewable Energy

   Figure 3. A photovoltaic cell and a wind turbine. 

Renewable energy sources have emerged as a promising solution to address these challenges. Solar energy, harnessed from the sun, is particularly abundant, with approximately 1.08x1014 kilowatts of energy reaching the Earth's surface each year [8]. Much research has been dedicated to developing photovoltaic technology, which can convert sunlight into usable electricity [9].

However, photovoltaic cells, commonly found in solar panels, face several drawbacks, including high initial costs, relatively low efficiency, and intermittent energy output due to geographic conditions [10-11].

Wind Energy

Figure 4. A group of offshore wind turbines.

Wind energy, another promising renewable source, reached a record production of 651 GW in 2019 [12]. Advances in wind turbine technology have contributed to a reduction in their initial cost, making wind energy more accessible [13]. Yet, wind energy has encountered resistance due to potential environmental issues, including noise pollution and disruptions to migratory patterns for birds [14-15].

Geothermal Energy

Figure 5. Pipes used during the transport of water in a geothermal power plant. ‡

Geothermal power, which harnesses Earth's natural heat, is another viable option, with a heat output equivalent to about 13,000 nuclear power plants [16]. Nevertheless, geothermal energy faces its unique set of environmental challenges, such as the leakage of heavy metals into the surrounding soils and an increase in seismic activity [17].

Hydrogen Fuel

Figure 6. A hydrogen powered car.

Among these renewable sources, hydrogen stands out as one of the most promising alternatives. Hydrogen, as the lightest element with a molecular weight of 1.008 amu, is the most abundant element in the universe, often existing as diatomic H2 molecules. As a fuel, hydrogen offers nearly three times the energy potential of gasoline, with an energy density of 141.9 MJ/kg compared to gasoline's 47.4 MJ/kg [18]. Notably, hydrogen's combustion produces only water as a byproduct (as shown in Equation 1), making it exceptionally clean and environmentally friendly.