Lowering Iridium (Ir) content in the Electrocatalyst for the Oxygen Evolution Reaction in Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Water Electrolyzers (PEM-WEs)
This project relates to water electrolysis, and much of the focus is towards developing advanced Electrocatalysts for the Oxygen Evolution Reaction (OER). The current Ir catalyst used in the anode of the Electrolyzer, is strongly affected by world Ir supply chain situation; this puts the growth and development of Electrolyzer products in jeopardy, which will impact sectors such as - Hydrogen Refueling Stations, decarbonization of chemical and steel industry. Without adequate supply of Green Hydrogen, Carbon footprint cannot be reduced enough to meet the Net Zero Mandate of 2050, proposed by the UK Government, since blue Hydrogen is only a temporary solution, and that too, held hostage by Natural Gas demand and supply discrepancies, as witnessed currently.
Operating PEM-WE at lowered Ir levels (in the anode) is a huge challenge, as the performance levels appear to drop significantly, and it is still an unsolved puzzle – as to how to meet desired performance targets with very low Ir content in OER electrocatalysts or alternative catalyst nanoparticles and compositions. There are still un-optimized electrocatalyst formulations and many untested options, e.g., lower Ir levels (from 2 mg/cm2 to say, about 0.05 mg/cm2), Ir and other PGMs and Transition Metals in binary, and ternary formulations, not very well characterized.
This PhD research will involve – PEM-WE cell testing, Anode and Cathode characterization using Electrochemical methods like Cyclic Voltammetry and Tafel Plot studies, and Electrochemical Impedance Analysis, Accelerated Stress Testing, and most importantly, novel synthetic procedures for high activity electrocatalysts, and its corresponding high electron conducting support materials, that can withstand oxidation from the Oxygen evolution.
The above project represents a critical challenge towards developing better OER catalysts for PEM-WEs, and addresses the huge concern associated with global Ir supply chain.
Applicants should hold or expect to obtain a good honours degree (2:1 or above) in a relevant discipline. A masters level qualification in a relevant discipline is desirable, but not essential, as well as a demonstrable understanding of the research area. Further details of the expected background may appear in the specific project details. International students will be subject to the standard entry criteria relating to English language ability, ATAS clearance and, when relevant, UK visa requirements and procedures.
How to Apply
Applicants should apply online for this opportunity at: https://e-vision.tees.ac.uk/si_prod/userdocs/web/apply.html?CourseID=1191
Please use the Online Application (Funded PHD) application form. When asked to specify funding select “other” and enter ‘RDS’ and the title of the PhD project that you are applying for. You should ensure that you clearly indicate that you are applying for a Funded Studentship and the title of the topic or project on the proposal that you will need to upload when applying. If you would like to apply for more than one project, you will need to complete a further application form and specify the relevant title for each application to a topic or project.
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