Device Development

Above: Schematic representation of an AEM-URFC as an energy storage device for vehicular and grid applications. The AEM-URFC stores renewable energy as H2 while in electrolyzer mode and then uses that H2 to produce electric energy on-demand when in fuel cell mode.

Our device development efforts involve incorporating electrocatalysts into energy storage and conversion systems. For example, we have developed a precious-metal-free, low-temperature unitized regenerative fuel cell based on H2O-H2-O2 interconversion chemistries that could potentially address the intermittency issue afflicting renewable energy as shown in the figure above [1]. We have also engineered polymer electrolyte membrane electrolyzers that uses cost-effective molybdenum sulfides as alternative to precious-metal Pt to drive the hydrogen evolution reaction at the cathode [2]. Future work includes developing devices that couple either CO2 reduction or N2 reduction with water oxidation to generate liquid fuels or ammonia feedstock respectively.

In addition, we are developing devices for hydrogen peroxide production. The development of small-scale, decentralized reactors for H2O2 production that can be coupled to renewable energy sources are of particular interest for water purification in the developing world and other potential decentralization application. We are currently investigating carbon-based catalysts that demonstrate excellent performance for H2O2 production in alkaline to neutral conditions. We have also designed, low-cost, membrane-free reactor design represents a step towards a continuous, modular-scale, de-centralized production of H2O2.

[1] J.W.D. Ng, Y. Gorlin, T. Hatsukade, and T.F. Jaramillo*, “A precious-metal-free regenerative fuel cell for storing renewable electricity”, Advanced Energy Materials, 3 (12), 1545-1550 (2013).
[2] J.W.D. Ng, T.R. Hellstern, J. Kibsgaard, A.C. Hinckley, J.D. Benck, T.F. Jaramillo, “Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Electrolyzers Utilizing Non-precious Mo-based Hydrogen Evolution Catalysts”, Accepted in ChemSusChem (2015).