This research aims to produce novel catalysts for fuel cells by understanding the preparation and structure of nanoparticles used in fuel cell anodes and cathodes. The benefit of this project is that it brings together two disciplines: the chemistry of making catalysts and the engineering of the fuel cells in applications.
This is an important thing to do now because fuel cells are not satisfactory in applications like combined heat and power since the catalyst performance is insufficient and too expensive at present.
New catalysts are especially needed in China where carbon dioxide emissions and global warming are set to rise alarmingly in the coming decades. The objective of this project is to develop new high performance and economic nanoparticle catalyst s for fuel cells.
This will involve 5 subsidiary objectives.
- Synthesize nanoparticle catalysts of Pt, Ni and base metals, especially to produce new degrees of aggregation in their structure.
- Characterising the nanoparticles to define the new structures, compositions and processes will be a major part of the project. Scanning probe microscopy (SPM) and nanosizer dynamic light scattering (DLS) will be the main measurement methods, together with electron microscopy.
- Focus on the interpretation of the promoting effect of added elements such as ruthenium or molybdenum on the nanoparticles, either Pt for PEMFCs or Ni for SOFCs, when synthesized by various techniques. Cells will be made from the new materials and tested.
- Study interaction of the catalysts with the support structures and electrolyte membranes in fuel cell systems.
- Transfer this new knowledge to China where substantial new power generation is needed in the next 20 years.
It is expected that substantial performance improvements and cost reductions will result from this research.
Fields of science
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