Polymer electrolyte water electrolysis: Understanding the microstructure of a core-shell based anode catalyst layer
Reducing precious metal loading in the anodic catalyst layer (CL) is indispensable for lowering capital costs and enabling the widespread adoption of polymer electrolyte water electrolysis (PEWE). This work presents the first three-dimensional reconstruction of a TiO2-supported IrO2 based core shell catalyst layer, using high-resolution X-ray ptychographic tomography at cryogenic temperature of 90 K. The high data quality and phase sensitivity of the technique have allowed the reconstruction of all four phases namely pore space, IrO2, TiO2 support matrix and the ionomer network, the latter of which has proven to be a challenge in the past.
The evolution of O2 on Ir-based catalysts requires the complete oxidation of their surface to Ir+5
The evolution of O2 occurring in polymer electrolyte water electrolyzer anodes is a very slow reaction that must be catalyzed using iridium (Ir-) based materials. However, Ir is an extremely scarce metal, and thus the extended commercialization of these electrolyzers will only be possible if the amount of Ir implemented in their anodes is drastically reduced. This requires an improved understanding of the individual steps through which these Ir-based materials catalyze the evolution of O2. To shed light on this matter, in this work we studied four different Ir-based catalysts under operative conditions using time resolved X-ray absorption spectroscopy. Our results show for the first time that, despite the differences between these materials, their surfaces must systematically be completely oxidized to a +5 state in order for the evolution of O2 to proceed on them.
Towards Next Generation Membranes for Polymer Electrolyte Water Electrolysis
The conversion efficiency for green hydrogen production in a polymer electrolyte water electrolyzer (PEWE) is strongly influenced by the ohmic cell resistance and therefore the thickness of the membrane. The use of thin membranes (~50 micron or below) is limited by gas crossover of H2 and O2, which can lead to the formation of an explosive gas mixture. The incorporation of a Pt recombination catalyst provides remedy and allows a more dynamic operating mode (cf. Highlight 03/2022). However, the presence of Pt nanoparticles leads to an increase in the rate of membrane degradation. Therefore, we have additionally doped the membrane with cerium-zirconium-oxide (CZO) nanoparticles, which act as radical scavenger. The rate of membrane degradation can thus be reduced.
Integration of Li4Ti5O12 crystalline films on silicon towards high-rate performance lithionic devices
The growth of crystalline Li-based oxide thin films on silicon substrates is essential for the integration of next-generation solid-state lithionic and electronic devices. In this work, we employ a 2 nm γ-Al2O3 buffer layer on Si substrates in order to grow high quality crystalline thin films Li4Ti5O12 (LTO). Long-term galvanostatic cycling of 50 nm LTO demonstrates exceptional electrochemical performance, specific capacity of 175 mAh g-1 and 56 mAh g-1 at 100C and 5000C respectively, with a capacity retention of 91% after 5000 cycles.
Updated electrochemical impedance model for understanding the interface of metallic lithium
Lithium metal negative electrodes are often used as counter electrodes while testing other electrochemically active materials, and are considered to be equivalent, independently of their thickness, supplier and production processes used. Here, we clearly demonstrate, using Electrochemical Impedance spectroscopy (EIS) that it is not the case, as well as the often-used symmetric cells are actually not so symmetric, when EIS spectra are disentangled using Thee-electrode cells.
Prevention of freezing propagation in fuel cells using segmentation
The ability to start-up in extreme environmental conditions, including sub-freezing temperatures, is essential to the deployment of the fuel cell technology. Water produced in fuel cells at these temperatures can be in the super-cooled state, and freezing can lead to a rapid shutdown, as water cannot be removed anymore as a liquid. By segmenting a fuel cell, it is possible to prevent the propagation of freezing, which enables the cell operation even after the first freezing event occurred.
Versatile and Fast Methodology for Evaluation of Metallic Lithium Negative Battery Electrodes
Evaluating potential electrolyte candidates is typically a lengthy procedure requiring long-term cycling experiments. To speed this process up, we have investigated potentiostatic lithium plating as a potential method for fast electrolyte suitability investigation. The applications of this methodology is not limited to liquid electrolytes, - effects of solid-state electrolytes, coatings, and other modifications can be readily assessed.
Li-ion solvation in TFSI and FSI - based ionic liquid electrolytes probed by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy
We demonstrate the capability of conventional laboratory XPS to determine the anions solvation shell of Li+ cation within 1M of LiTFSI and 1M of LiFSI salts dissolved in (EMIM+-FSI-) and (EMIM+-TFSI-) ionic liquids. The binding energy difference between the N1s components originating from the EMIM+ cation and from TFSI- or FSI- anions, solvating the Li+, confirms that both TFSI- and FSI- contribute simultaneously to the Li+ solvation. Additionally, the degradation of the TFSI and FSI -based electrolytes under X-ray exposure is proved.
Damage-Repair Cycle in Hydrocarbon Based Membranes for Fuel Cells
The development of next generation fuel cell membranes based on aromatic hydrocarbon chemistry calls for a new antioxidant strategy to tackle radical induced membrane degradation. Although damage by radicals cannot be prevented, the formed aromatic intermediates can be repaired by a suitable additive. Fuel cell experiments demonstrate that the approach is viable on the device level and that repair is a catalytic mechanism.