PhD opportunities

New aerogel-based materials for the production of green hydrogen in low temperature water electrolysers (PEMWE).

Thesis proposal

Area of expertiseEnergétique et génie des procédés
Doctoral SchoolISMME - Ingénierie des Systèmes, Matériaux, Mécanique, Énergétique
SupervisorBEAUGER Christian
Research unitEnergétique et Procédés
KeywordsElectrodes, PEMWE, Electrolysis, nanostructured materials, metal oxides, doping
AbstractContext and challenges
One of the major challenges of 'low temperature' electrolysis (PEMWE) concerns the availability of the catalyst used to promote the oxidation reaction of water: iridium.
To increase the mass activity, the strategy proposed in this work is to 'nano-architect' the anode materials by developing either Ir oxide aerogels or conductive and stable aerogel catalyst supports for IrOx, drawing inspiration from what has been developed in the context of fuel cells.
Our previous works have highlighted the value of using aerogels as catalyst supports for low temperature fuel cells (PEMFC) and electrolysis (PEMWE).
The work proposed here ranges from the synthesis of new aerogel materials for electrolysis to their evaluation in real operating condition in single cell.

Scientific objectives
• Synthesis of new aerogels and their characterization (physico-chemical and electro-chemical);
• preparation of nanoarchitectured anodes based on the obtained aerogel materials;
• MEAs preparation and characterization in real operating conditions (single cell);
• understanding of the phenomena responsible for the support final properties on the basis of the structure-properties relationships.

The synthesis protocols resulting from our previous work should be optimized for the foreseen application. The oxides will be synthesized by sol-gel route. The doping will be carried out during this step by adding precursors of the doping element. The gels will be supercritically dried (CO2). The aerogels thus obtained will then be calcined under a controlled atmosphere. The deposition of IrOx will be carried out by various methods evaluated in terms of the characteristic dimensions of the deposit. The electrodes will be realized by adapting the protocols developed in the case of fuel cells. At each stage of the process, the materials will be characterized, in order to determine the obtained phases and the morphology of the materials (XRD, XPS, SEM, TEM and nitrogen sorption), the level, the homogeneity and the quality of the doping (XPS, EDX, electron conductivity), dispersion and distribution of nanoparticles (XRD, TEM) as well as the electrocatalytic activity and durability of the electrocatalyst (polarization curve, cyclic voltammetry, accelerated stress tests…).

Expected results
This study will make it possible to develop oxide aerogel-based materials with characteristics allowing them to be used as electrode materials in low temperature electrolysers (PEMWE).
Ultimately, the target is an increase in mass current density by a factor of 5.
ProfileTo apply : send CV to Christian Beauger -
FundingContrat de recherche