Pigment paves the way towards Bio-hydrogen

Supervisory team: Dr Dawei Wang and Dr Kuang Hsu Wu

Description: Hydrogen is the future source of renewable energy. Clean hydrogen is essential to ensure the durability of hydrogen fuel cells. But the hydrogen from methane cracking usually is contaminated by CO, which easily poisons the Pt catalyst in fuel cells. Water splitting provides the alternative route to clean hydrogen production yet is energy intensive due to the extreme stability of water molecules and high cost due to the use of precious metal catalysts.

This project aims to establish a new integrated technology to produce clean hydrogen from biomass. There are two highlights: 1. electrochemical biomass refinery for hydrogen production. biomass is easier to split compared with water and more than 30% energy can be hence saved. 2. non-precious pigment-derived electrochemical catalyst. Pigment is environmentally compatible and cost effective, and has been widely used as electrocatalyst for a range of reactions.
Successful applicant to this project will work within a team including the academic supervisor, postdoctoral research fellow and PhD students.

Expected Outcome:
The project will allow students to work in a team to develop solutions to an elusive real world problem. The research is expected to lead to a publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Significant improvement in catalyst performance may even lead to a start-up company! The project will train students in synthesis, characterization and activity testing techniques, preparing for future career in industry and/or higher degree research.

Suitable for: Chemical Engineers and Industrial Chemistry students. Project maybe available to do during summer semester.

Level of difficulty: Challenging

Reference: please contact Dr Da-Wei Wang (da-wei.wang@unsw.edu.au) for reference and if you have any questions.