Alternative carbon-free energy technologies are urgently needed. Hydrogen fuel cells are one option. Another is the ammonia-based fuel cell. Such devices though require use of relatively expensive platinum group metal catalysts. A lot of recent interest has been aroused by High Entropy Alloys (HEAs). These unique materials typically comprise 5 or more elements in roughly equal amounts. Some have shown excellent stability, acting as corrosion-resistant layers on metals which are susceptible to corrosion, such as that occurring in acidic fuel cell environments. Others can enhance electrochemical reactions such as the hydrogen oxidation reaction and the oxygen reduction reaction, which are vitally important fuel cell reactions. This project aims to develop innovative HEAs suitable for use in such devices acting as electroctalysts, utilising relatively abundant metals.
Several HEAs will be developed using a Green Chemistry approach. This will involve electrodeposition in room temperature ionic liquids (RTILs) and/or deep eutectic solvents (DESs). Following optimisation of the electrodeposition process, their physical characteristics will be examined in order to ascertain their microstructural features (such as presence of intermetallic phases) and to better understand their compositional profiles. Following this their stability (corrosion behaviour), together with an investigation of some important reactions pertinent to their operation as electrocatalysts in energy devices (such as fuel cells), will be examined. Reactions including oxygen evolution and reduction, methanol/ethanol oxidation and hydrogen evolution and oxidation are key fuel cell reactions. Their use as electrocatalysts in some electrochemical sensing applications may also be explored. A range of electrochemical, spectroscopic and microscopic methods will be employed in this project. Knowledge gained in this work will contribute significantly to the Applied Electrochemistry Group’s research.
First Class Honours or 2.1 Honours BSc in chemistry or materials science
This project is unfunded