On average each person on earth uses 0.5 kg H2O2 / year, mainly related to paper and chemicals production. While already a high amount, if H2O2 could be synthesized on-site from oxygen and water it could be used for new applications, in particular water purification. The electrochemical production of H2O2 provides an attractive means of fulfilling these requirements1. Oxygen could be reduced at the cathode of a fuel cell or electrolyzer, yielding H2O2 as a product. Contingent to the realization of this technology is the development of a cathode catalyst that is active, selective and stable. On the basis of microscopic insight, we recently discovered a new class of catalysts for H2O2 production; these were based on isolated active sites of an oxophilic element surrounded by inert atoms. Experimental tests in acidic solution confirmed that these catalysts exhibited superior catalytic properties, far exceeding the current state-of-the-art2,3. We now extend the search to alkaline electrolytes, finding significant differences in activity and stability for these single site catalysts. This opens up new possibilities for oxygen reduction electrocatalysis we explore in the current work.
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