Université de Liège
Prof. Nathalie Job
Prof. Philippe Vereecken (KUL/imec)
Optimized carbon supports for durable and high performance PEMFC electrodes
The goal of this research is to develop optimized carbon structures to be used as catalyst supports for Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cells and their corresponding catalytic layers in Membrane-Electrode Assembly (MEA) configuration.
This PhD will be focused on the development of new carbon nanostructures as efficient and stable supports for PEM fuel cells based on metals and alloys as catalytic phase.
It aims at tackling several issues:
Mass transport limitations in the catalytic layers through the synthesis and processing (as MEAs) of nanostructured carbon materials with appropriate pore texture and particle size
Carbon corrosion upon use through the post-treatment of the carbon supports to deposit a well-graphitized layer on top of the primary carbon nanostructure without altering the pore architecture necessary to mass transport
Electrical/ionic conductivity of the electrodes through the study of the MEAs formulation (optimization of the catalyst particle size, connection with the ionomer, use of additives)
Metal/alloy deposition on these optimized carbon nanostructures using first classical Pt nanoparticles (as reference), then PtM alloy nanoparticles and hollow structures (which are extremely active and more stable) in order to decrease at best the necessary Pt quantity without decreasing the catalytic layer activity.
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