Developing high performance catalysts to increase efficiency of fuel cells, water-splitting cells and batteries.
Energy materials are the most important parts of several electrochemical devices, for example fuel cells, water-splitting cells and batteries. Each device’s performance strongly depends on the rate of a series of electrochemical reactions that occur on the surface of electrode catalysts. Reaction rates depend on a wide range of factors in combination, including the properties of the reactions (thermodynamics, kinetics and diffusion) and the physical properties of the solid-phase catalyst (geometric properties and electronic structure).
To get the best performance out of an electrochemical device, it is crucial to choose an appropriate electrocatalyst.
Our energy materials research
A CET research team led by Professor Shizhang Qiao is designing and developing high performance electrocatalysts for:
- oxygen reduction reactions (cathode reaction of a fuel cell)
- hydrogen evolution reactions (anode reaction of a water splitting cell or an electrolytic cell)
- oxygen evolution reactions (charging processes in a metal-air battery).
Our team is using a multi-disciplinary approach to reveal the nature of electrocatalytic processes and the reactivity origin of the electrocatalysts.
By using computational theory and electrochemical experiments the team have developed a design principle for effective catalysts that simultaneously considers an energy material’s chemical components and physical structures.
This discovery means that the team can now design of a wide variety of new catalysts offering better performance for more cutting edge energy storage and conversion processes.
Our team is now focusing on another two key electrocatalysis processes:
- carbon dioxide reduction reactions – to transform carbon dioxide to a range of hydrocarbons
- nitrogen reduction reactions – to achieve room temperature ammonia synthesis under mild condition.
The team is also planning to combine these processes with solar energy to increase the efficiency and sustainability of fuel and chemical production.