PhD Student , University of Pittsburgh
Identification, synthesis and development of high performance electro-catalysts for water splitting.
“I believe that water will one day be employed as fuel, that hydrogen and oxygen which constitute it, used singly or together, will furnish an inexhaustible source of heat and light, of an intensity of which coal is not capable. I believe then that when the deposits of coal are exhausted, we shall heat and warm ourselves with water. Water will be the coal of the future”- Jules Vernes, French novelist, poet (1870) Due to rapid depletion of conventional fossil fuels and alarming signs of the global warming, there is urgent need to develop environmental friendly and sustainable energy sources which can alleviate the global reliance on the rapidly diminishing conventional fossil fuels. In the pursuit of this incentive, Hydrogen (H2) having completely non-carbonaceous nature and higher energy density than petroleum based energy sources clearly meets this need and hence it has garnered immense attention as the foremost energy carrier over the last decade. Therefore, my present research involves the generation of highly efficient and sustainable hydrogen via advantageous proton exchange membrane water electrolysis (PEMWE). Though PEMWE is the promising way to generate ultra-high purity hydrogen in large scale, commercial development of this technology has been largely constrained due to the need for highly expensive and environmentally scarce noble electro-catalysts such as Pt, RuO2, and IrO2 which exhibit excellent electro-catalytic performance towards PEMWE. Thus, my current research is focused on the identification, synthesis and development of novel reduced noble metal containing as well as noble metal free electro-catalysts, unveiling remarkable electro-catalytic performance superior to noble metal based state-of-the art electro-catalysts. This will assist in the reduction of capital cost of PEM water electrolyzer cells and thus, its advancement towards the prolific commercialization. In this direction, I have identified high performance robust (Mn,Ir)O2:F electro-catalyst with ultra-low noble metal content (up-to 80%) and ~ 15 fold higher electrochemical performance than pure IrO2 for PEMWE. This study has been recently published in the Journal of RSC Advances, 2017, 7, 17311-17324 and I am very excited to present this useful work at the 6th International Seminar on Green Energy Conversion at Nagano-Japan, where I could share my knowledge to the researchers across the globe and gain great insights in my present research prospects.