Hydrogen, having largest energy density over any other fuel in the world, came up as a rising star towards the replacement of diminishing fossil fuel because of not only its broad application as fuel in renewable energy sources but also the ease to produce. Thus extensive research on the development of new, inexpensive and abundant HER catalysts are highly desired.
Difficulties in storage and transport of highly flammable hydrogen gas led to increase the research efforts in the usage of small organic molecules with high volumetric energy density (such as methanol, ethanol, formic acid etc.) as a fuel. However, oxidation kinetics of the small organic molecules is slower than hydrogen. Therefore, increasing research efforts have to be carried out to design and develop more efficient anode electrocatalysts.
One of the major obstacles in the fuel cells, metal air batteries and electrolyzers is actually the development of electrode material for oxygen electrochemistry namely Oxygen Reduction Reaction-ORR (in fuel cells, batteries) and Oxygen Evolution Reaction-OER (in electrolyzers) due to their much slower reaction kinetics. Though highly monodispersed nanostructure catalysts are typically used to enhance the rate of reactions, under the real application conditions especially in acidic medium at low temperature such catalysts faces severe challenges towards the activity, stability, cost and abundant issue of the materials used. Therefore, designing and developing highly robust and low cost efficient electrocatalysts for OER and ORR is intensely desirable.
The group has already developed various robust and highly efficient catalysts such as Pd2Ge for ethanol oxidation, Pd3Pb for both formic acid and ethanol oxidation, Pt2In3 for methanol and ethanol oxidation and many other catalysts for hydrogen evolution reaction and oxygen reduction reactions.