Presentation on theme: "Fuel Cells and a Nanoscale Approach to Materials Design Chris Lucas Department of Physics Outline PEM fuel cells (issues) A nanoscale approach to materials."— Presentation transcript:
Fuel Cells and a Nanoscale Approach to Materials Design Chris Lucas Department of Physics Outline PEM fuel cells (issues) A nanoscale approach to materials design
What is a fuel cell? A fuel cell is an electrochemical energy conversion device It converts hydrogen and oxygen into water and produces electricity The chemicals (fuel) flow continuously unlike in a battery Several types: (1)PEM (transportation applications) (2)Solid oxide fuel cell (stationary applications, co-generation of heat and power)
Hydrogen Cars: Fad or the Future? Science, June 2009
Proton Exchange Membrane or Polymer Electrolyte Membrane PEM Fuel Cell Technology Membrane is a permeable polymer sheet which allows protons (H atoms) to pass through Operate at low temperatures with high power density Low cost, small size, high performance Ideal for transportation, stationary and portable applications
Energy Storage and Conversion: Fuel Cells Efficiency issues: Membrane transport Anode: Impurity-tolerant catalyst Cathode: A good catalyst for oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) (1/2O 2 +2H + +2e - = H 2 O) Nanoscale and Surface Physics: Catalyst Materials by Design
Catalyst Issues (1) Substantial overpotential for the ORR reduces the thermal efficiency to 43% at 0.7 V [compared to 87% at reversible ORR potential (1.23 V)] (2) Pt is expensive (Pt-loading) (3) Performance degrades too quickly due to dissolution (stability issue) Question: Can we use modern experimental methods to design a nanoscale catalyst?
Tailoring surface properties at the atomic level Bifunctional effects: Effects can be: (1) Ensemble (2) Electronic Nanoscale and Surface Physics: Catalyst Materials by Design M to do something else? Pt for catalysis Bimetallic Pt-alloy surfaces - Pt 3 M
Modern Experimental Methods l UHV preparation and characterization l Transfer to liquid environment for activity measurements l Transfer back to observe changes-or even better, have a look in-situ (1) Polycrystalline materials (2) Single crystals
Trends in catalytic activity across the Periodic Table (3d metals) Strong link between atomic/electronic structure and activity both from theory and experiment (d-band center is proportional to adsorption strength) Nature Materials, v6, p241 (2007)
DFT and Monte-Carlo calculations for nanoparticles These nanoparticles have yet to be engineered
Science, v324 (April, 2009) Just a Dream-or Future Reality? Nitrogen coordinated Fe in a carbon matrix now matches Pt/C Turnover frequency = number of electrons per active site per second
Summary Fuel cells offer significant potential climate and energy security benefits Materials design from fundamental nanoscale studies This approach could be used in a range of materials (and energy) applications Note: The University of Birmingham is the only UK institution to work on all aspects of Hydrogen energy research
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