UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Methods for reducing the capital costs of electrolyzers for hydrogen generation Hudkins, Jesse

Abstract

Amorphous phases of metal oxide thin films are of interest to the Berlinguette group because they mediate the oxygen evolution reaction more efficiently than crystalline phases of the same compositions. One goal of this thesis is to develop a technique to implement amorphous metal oxide thin films in a membrane electrode assembly (MEA) by depositing these highly active thin films on solid polymer electrolyte membranes. Chapter 2 outlines the implementation of amorphous iridium oxide (a-IrOx) into a catalyst-coated membrane (CCM) to study amorphous thin film electrocatalysts in MEAs. Current densities of 10 mA cm-² were reached at relatively low overpotentials (~ 400 mV) for amorphous CCMs produced using the decal transfer method. This electrochemical response compares closely to that of amorphous iridium electrodeposited on conductive glass (10 mA cm-² at η = 430 mV). The second goal of this thesis is to lower the capital costs of alkaline electrolyzer units by using plastic as a surrogate for metal in field-flow plates. This achievement was demonstrated by electroplating nickel onto 3D-printed plastic flow-field plates. The test cells containing these metal-coated plastic components matched the performance of conventional metal components, despite containing 60-fold less metal. Chapter 4 summarizes this work and offers future directions of the research conducted for this thesis.

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