Focus – Improving materials to lower the cost and raise the performance of fuel cells and electrolyzers.
- Developing multi-functional electrode materials for the fuel and air electrodes in solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) that offer fast reaction kinetics and/or resistance to coking and sulfur poisoning from H2-based fuels. SOFCs can generate energy by serving as a fuel cell with a fuel and air or produce H2 and oxygen from water by serving as an electrolysis cell.
- Characterizing the atomic structure and composition of nano-catalysts, membranes, and catalyst supports used in fuel cells before and after cycling.
- Modeling the impact of membrane material properties on humidification and thermodynamics for monitoring and control of proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell health in real time. A 2 kW H2 fuel cell testing station is used to validate results and mimics the operational environment of a 105 kW fuel cell.
- Alternative low-cost, robust, and highly active electrocatalysts to replace the expensive Pt-group metals (Pt, IrOx, RuOx) needed for efficient H2 and O2 evolution in electrochemical water splitting.
- Thermal management and heat dissipation enhancement in fuel cell vehicles and systems. Water and gas management in fuel cells.
- 3D-printed cells to synthesize and characterize electrocatalysts under precise conditions. 3D printing will allow: (i) evaluation of how mass transfer and gas evolution is improved using enhanced geometries, (ii) comparison of the activity of different electrocatalysts while the reaction environment is precisely controlled, and (iii) testing the long-term stability and potential scale-up of the as-prepared materials under more realistic conditions.
- Developing cost-effective nanostructured catalyst/electrode material systems for the H2 evolution reaction by designing and understanding catalysts at the single atom level. Detailed atomic structure analysis using transmission electron microscopy.
- Bio-inspired and solar-driven approaches for the generation and utilization of H2 by employing earth abundant elements such as iron and silicon. Bidirectional catalyst design for H2 bond-making or bond-breaking and attachment of H2 catalysts directly to solar panels.
- Understanding how electrocatalyst structure evolves under reaction conditions and how to manage these dynamic changes to design active and stable materials.
- Advanced computational methods based on quantum mechanics to understand and design materials for H2 production and conversion. New, promising materials for the H2 evolution reaction (HER) have been designed as a result.
- Developing nanocrystal-polymer composite PEMs and ionomers suitable for H2 fuel cells and electrolyzers to enable operation in regimes where kinetic efficiency losses and catalytic degradation pathways are both suppressed. The cost, weight, and physical size of the fuel cell system can all be dramatically reduced as a result.
- Investigating metal oxide nanocrystals as supports for catalyst particles embedded in fuel cell or electrolyzer electrodes to improve efficiency and reduce degradation, independent of high-temperature operation.
- Developing a comprehensive computational approach capable of evaluating the electrocatalytic performance of graphene-like materials and multi-metallic nanoparticles under constant chemical potential, especially active sites and their role and characteristics for electrocatalytic reactions involved in H2 fuel cells. The ultimate goal is to establish guidelines for the rational design and development of platinum-free electrocatalysts.
- Developing and using computational methodology, in close collaboration with experiments, to study kinetic processes at the atomic scale. The goal is to develop cheaper and more efficient materials for water electrolysis (O2 and H2 evolution reactions) and for H2 utilization in fuel cells, replacing platinum group metals.
- Designing and testing new ionic liquids that possess desirable physical property and phase behavior characteristics, necessary for important separation problems, such as gas separations. Co-developing next-generation high-temperature polymer electrolyte membrane (HT-PEM) fuel cell technology for the automotive industry.
- Designing and synthesizing microporous metal-organic framework (MOF) materials for H2 sequestration and activation and synthesizing unusual metal nanoalloys for H2 activation and utilization of atomic hydrogen in chemical catalysis and electrocatalysis.
Arumugam Manthiram, Thrust 1
Paulo Ferreira, Thrust 2
Maggie Chen, Thrust 3
C. Buddie Mullins, Thrusts 4, 6
Vaibhav Bahadur, Thrust 5
Jamie Warner, Thrust 7
Michael Rose, Thrust 8
Joaquin Resasco, Thrusts 4, 9
Yuanyue Liu, Thrust 10
Delia Milliron, Thrusts 11, 12
Graeme Henkelman, Thrust 14
Joan Brennecke, Thrust 15
Simon Humphrey, Thrust 16