Our main specialities are creating novel electrochemical diagnostic techniques for, and developing, clean energy devices such as low temperature fuel cells, supercapacitors and redox flow batteries. Some of our current research projects are outlined below. More research information can be found on the individual pages of our group members.
The floating electrode
The floating electrode allows the evaluation of electrocatalysts for fuel cell reactions without the mass-transport limitations of other methods such as the rotating disc electrode.
Zalitis, Christopher M., Denis Kramer, and Anthony R. Kucernak. "Electrocatalytic performance of fuel cell reactions at low catalyst loading and high mass transport." Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics 15.12 (2013): 4329-4340.
The flexiplanar fuel cell
Flexiplanar fuel cell uses PCB manufacturing technology to produce low-cost and highly scalable fuel cell stacks. This project has been carried on in collaboration with Dan Brett at UCL and sponsored by the Carbon Trust. An independent economic analysis, commissioned by the Carbon Trust, concluded that the flexiplanar fuel cell could reduce fuel cell costs below $36/kW, a key target of the US DoE for fuel cell commercialisation.
An aerogel is a porous ultralight material usually derived from gels, in which the liquid component of the gel has been replaced with a gas. Carbon aerogels are an interesting class of materials that exhibit high surface areas and somewhat tunable pore sizes and porosity. We investigate carbon aerogels as supports for fuel cells, as electrode for redox flow batteries and for use in supercapacitors.
Redox flow batteries
Redox flow batteries are promising candidates for large scale energy storage due to their versatile architectural design. We develop new chemistries and battery components devoted to reducing RFB capital costs and environmental footprint.
Non-precious metal electrocatalysts
Developing active, inexpensive non-precious metal ORR catalyst materials to replace currently used Pt-basedcatalysts is a necessary and essential requirement in order to reduce the cost of PEM fuel cells. Pyrolyzed transition metal nitrogen-containing complexes supported on carbonmaterials (M–Nx/C) are considered the most promising ORR catalysts because they have demonstrated ORR activity and stability close to that of commercially available Pt/C catalysts.
Fuel cell poisoning
Common contaminants in industrial hydrogen such as carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulfide, casue a significant drop in fuel cell efficiency and power densiiy by poisoning common catalysts. We work on the development of electrocatalysts that are immune to poisoning and also work on the chemical cleaning of poisoned electrocatalysts to recover lost activity.
Biraj Kumar Kakati, Anthony R.J. Kucernak, Gas phase recovery of hydrogen sulfide contaminated polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells, Journal of Power Sources, Volume 252, 15 April 2014, Pages 317-326.
Fuel cell lifetime extension
As the fuel cell is quite a harsh environment, with acidic pH and high electrochemical potential, the corrosion of fuel cell components is a significant issue with regard to fuel cell lifetimes. We are working on corrosion-resistant coatings and materials to allow high-current density current collectors in fuel cells that last well over 10,000 hours.