DS02 - Energie, propre, sûre et efficace

Electrochemical properties of Metal Oxide Epitaxial Catalysts – EC+MEC

Submission summary

The production of H2 is one of the promising solutions to store sustainable energy. H2 is considered as an excellent source of clean energy for the future. Its production through water splitting (WS) using renewable energy power (solar, wind etc.) is an efficient CO2-free process. Its conversion back to electrical power using fuel cells is also CO2-free. WS consists in the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) at the cathode and the oxygen evolution reaction (OER) at the anode. One of the major goals in the field of WS cells is the decrease of the potential difference necessary to drive these two reactions, i.e., the design of efficient catalysts for HER and OER. Hence, even though O2 which is abundant in the atmosphere is not a limiting compound in fuel cell technology, its efficient production is a direct means to convert sustainable energy into electrical power at a low power cost.
Efficient catalysts for WS are generally based on Pt-group metals which do not present an economically viable solution for large scale H2 production.

Recent studies attempted at designing new WS Pt-free catalysts. Some of them have shown that oxides of the Fe-group metals are very good candidates for efficient OER catalysts and that they meet all above requirements for a sustainable WS technology. This promising field of research is only at its premises and not much is known about the catalytic reaction mechanisms of these oxides. We believe that any new strategy to synthesize model catalysts in order to unravel the reaction mechanisms will be a step forward to significantly improve energy conversion and will have a large economical impact.

EC-MEC targets synthesizing Fe group metal and alloy oxides layers with defined structural properties using room temperature electrochemistry and understanding the relation between these oxides catalytic properties and their atomic scale structure to design new oxide catalysts for improved OER in WS cells. State of the art techniques will be utilized to investigate in-operando conditions the catalytic properties and structure of oxide catalysts in reaction conditions. The project is a French-German common project with Partner EP (Ecole Polytechnique, Palaiseau, France) and Partner IEAP (Institute of Experimental and Applied Physics, University of Kiel, Germany) and which will be conducted by EP. It will also benefit from an already existing collaboration between EP partner and the group of Jeffrey Greeley (Purdue University, USA), which performs Density Functional Theory calculations on metal oxides in the electrochemical environment.

Project coordination

Philippe Allongue (Laboratoire de Physique de la Matière Condensée)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


IEAP Institute for Experimental and Applied Physics
EP Laboratoire de Physique de la Matière Condensée

Help of the ANR 142,584 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: November 2015 - 36 Months

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