The need to decarbonise our economy whilst monitoring and adapting to climate change is driving huge transformation in all sectors. Managing the sometimes-conflicting needs of society and our environment is a complex challenge. It demands a whole system approach supported by a global effort, with decision making that needs to be anchored in trustworthy science and data. Measurement science is critical to identifying and quantifying this environmental impact as well as making energy generation and transport more efficient, safe and affordable.
Polymer electrolyte membrane water electrolysers (PEMWE) have many advantages over conventional alkaline electrolysers. These include the ability to operate at high current density as well as being able to cope better with intermittent use that would accompany the use of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power. To improve the commercial viability of PEM electrolysers, some improvements to stack lifetime are required. One of the principle ways this could be achieved is to increase the stability of the catalysts used.
This PhD project is a collaboration between the National Physical Laboratory, Imperial College London and Johnson Matthey, with the aim of improving the understanding of oxygen evolution reaction (OER) catalysts stability and dissolution mechanism. It builds on methods used for standardised short term accelerated stress testing in aqueous acidic media, that can better benchmark stability of OER catalysts for PEMWE applications. This project analyses the limitations of these techniques and how they can be mitigated.
The outcome of this project should enable better development and testing of new electrochemical catalysts that suffer less from metal dissolution when in operation at high potentials, such as those required for electrochemical water splitting for hydrogen fuel generation.