Controlling oxygen vacancies and mass transfer for superior AEM water electrolysis
The ultimate goal of developing non-precious-metal electro-catalysts for water electrolysis is the realization of large-scale cost-effective hydrogen production, which requires the use of high current densities (≥500 mA/cm2 at 1.8–2.4 V). In lieu of that, a group of collaborating researchers published a study in the Journal of Applied Catalysis which reports high performance (1390 mA/cm2 at 1.8 Vcell) in an AEM water electrolyzer fuel cell.
A chemical etching–based method of introducing oxygen defects into CCO was developed and used to prepare an electro-catalyst for the OER under alkaline conditions. Despite the decrease in electrochemical surface area due to etching, the chemically etched CCO exhibited enhanced OER performance and remarkable durability (>3600 h) due to the changed electronic structure of Cu and Co. The above material was directly used as the anode of a water electrolyzer fuel cell, which featured a Dioxide Materials reinforced Sustainion® membrane leading to impressive performance especially at high current density, attributable to very low mass transfer resistance. The below figure highlights the advantage of this work:
Comparison of current density at 1.8 Vcell and above 1.8 Vcell as-prepared electrodes and other reported electrodes to drive AEMWE system.
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If you want to read additional research regarding AEM water electrolysis, read our article titled Most Efficient Ever Alkaline Water Electrolyzer Uses Sustainion®