Novel nanostructured catalysts toward efficient and cost-effective fuel cell stacks

Supervisory team: Scientia Prof Rose Amal, Dr Xunyu Lu and Dr Rahman Daiyan

Description: Fuel cell stacks are the key element of fuel cell vehicles (FCV), which are considered as promising alternatives to the traditional fossil fuel-powered cars. The performance of fuel cell stacks are determined by two sluggish electrochemical processes involved, namely the anodic hydrogen oxidation reaction (HOR) and the cathodic oxygen reduction reaction (ORR). Currently, platinum (Pt) and its alloys are considered as the benchmarks for both HOR and ORR, while the exorbitant cost and scarcity of Pt have severely restricted its widespread applications.

(a) TEM image of a hollow sphere structured catalyst. (b) Schematic illustration of ORR and HOR on the hollow sphere structured catalyst.

This project dedicates to fabricate novel carbon-based catalysts for ORR and HOR, and boosting their catalytic activity by controlling the morphology, optimizing the compositions as well as doping with isolated metal atoms (e.g. Fe, Co and Ni). Moreover, more depth studies will be carried out to understand the catalytic mechanisms and reaction pathways of ORR and HOR, which will facilitate the further optimization of catalyst materials to reach a level similar, or even superior to their Pt based counterparts. Finally, the active non-precious material based catalysts will be carefully selected, and assembled into cost-effective fuel cell stacks with considerable durability and electricity output.
The students selected for this project will be given an opportunity to work in Particles and Catalysis Research Group (PartCat) at School of Chemical Engineering, under the supervision of Scientia Professor Rose Amal, and Dr Xunyu Lu. The students will have access to state-of-the-art experimentation facilities, mentoring opportunities and fun and nurturing working environment to gain necessary expertise facilitating their career in industry or academic research.

Suitable for: Chemical Engineers and Industrial Chemistry students. 

Level of difficulty: Challenging

References:

[1] Davydova et al. ACS Catal., 8 (7), 6665–6690, (2018)

[2] Lu et al. J. Mater. Chem. A, 3, 13371–13376, (2015)

[3] Wu et al. ChemSusChem, 8 (17), 2772-2788, (2015)

Further information can be obtained by contacting Professor Rose Amal (r.amal@unsw.edu.au)