Developing Novel Platinum Group Metal-Free Catalysts for Alkaline Hydrogen and Oxygen Evolution Reactions

Recipient Northeastern University/NEU (PI: Sanjeev Mukerjee)

Subs Advent (PI: Emory Decastro), NEU (PI: Serge Pann) and University of Delaware (PI: Yushan Yan)

Water Splitting Technology LTE

Status Awarded

Abstract This proposal is in pursuance of DE-FOA-0001647, Topic 2A, with a focus on durable, high-performance materials and interfaces for advanced water splitting, enabling a clear pathway for achieving <$2/KgH2 (on scale) with efficiency of 43 KWh/Kg using anion exchange membrane interface. We aim to advance these final goals via fundamental understanding of both hydrogen and oxygen evolution reactions (HER/OER) leading to novel materials in conjunction with critical improvements in membrane and ionomers and gas evolution electrodes with corresponding characterization and testing. We propose a three-year multifaceted and comprehensive effort that will follow strict regimen of milestones and metrics within the confines of budget period 1 and 2 as per guidelines mentioned in the FOA. Northeastern University (NEU) will lead focusing on catalyst development and characterization (both in situ and ex situ). University of Delaware (UD) will lead improvements in ionomer and membrane materials. Advent Technologies (AT) will aid in specialized electrode and membrane electrode assemblies. In addition, we propose close collaboration with National Laboratory partners with Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBNL) participating in multiscale modeling and computation in close concert with Sandia National Laboratory (SNL) providing MD simulations of the membrane catalyst interface and National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) providing advanced ionomers, durability protocols and validation.

Anion exchange membrane electrolyzers (AEMELs) are ideally suited with a low-cost profile enabled by platinum group metal (PGM)-free catalysts, low fluorine content membranes, and a less corrosive environment for cell separators. This project will develop stable, high-conductivity, and high-strength AEMs, stable and active PGM-free catalysts for hydrogen and oxygen evolution reaction (HER/OER), and high performance electrode architectures that together can unlock the cost advantages of AEMELs. If successful, the developed technology can meet FCTO efficiency targets, delivering carbon-neutral hydrogen at $2/kg while simultaneously enabling higher penetrations of wind and PV electricity on the grid.

The overall project goal is cell level performance of 1.62 V at 1 A/cm2, which meets the

FCTO efficiency target of 43 kWh/kg. Component performance targets have been established using a porous electrode model to support the overall cell performance target. This is at the modeled scale of 50,000 kg/day and operating at 1 A/cm2 resulting in hydrogen cost at $2.15,

$1.82, or $1.76/kg, respectively (2, 20, 200 plants). In the low-volume manufacturing case, it is still possible to meet the cost target by operating near 2 A/cm2, sacrificing some efficiency.