Renewable energy research published in EES Hydrogen fuel catalyst

A manuscript describing the Rutgers patented spinel OER catalyst LiCo2O4 has been accepted for publication in Energy & Environmental Science (EES), the highest impact journal in the field of energy sciences. This is a joint publication with collaborators from Proton OnSite. This material has been tested in an alkaline exchange membrane electrolyzer. It will be tested for use opposite our Rutgers patented HER nickel phosphide catalyst, NixPy, as the cathode material in a noble metal free AEM electrolyzer.   Future tests will examine this OER anode catalyst for use with a new class of CO2 reducing cathode catalysts for electrocatalytic conversion of CO2 and water to C1 and C2 hydrocarbons (renewable natural gas).

 

The basis for a hydrogen economy requires large-scale production of hydrogen many times the level supported by steam reforming. It has been proposed that the electrolysis of water can yield a supply on par with the worlds energy needs. However, efficient water splitting requires electrocatalysts that help to lower the total energy input closer to the thermodynamic minimum. These electrocatalysts are typically based on platinum group metals that cannot be produced at such scale. In membrane-based electrolyzers, the implementation of catalysts based upon earth-abundant metals has not been realized because they mostly operate under highly acidic conditions afforded by the proton exchange membrane Nafion. With the development of anion exchange membranes, non-PGM metal catalysts can be used and the high-efficiency of membrane-based electrolyzers can be attained without non-scalable catalysts. In this study, we show that LiCoO2 transforms through in situ delithiation to the cubic spinel LiCo2O4, forming a highly active and stable oxygen evolution reaction (OER) catalyst that works at both the lab scale and in a membrane-based electrolysis configuration relevant to larger scale commercial applications of hydrogen production via water splitting.

G. Gardner, J. Al-Sharab, N. Danilovic, Y. B. Go, K. E. Ayers, M. Greenblatt and G. C. Dismukes, Energy Environ. Sci., 2015, Structural Basis for Differing Electrocatalytic Water Oxidation by the Cubic, Layered and Spinel Forms of Lithium Cobalt Oxides. DOI: 10.1039/C5EE02195B