Hybrid Nanostructured Organic-Inorganic Catalysts for Water Electrolysis

Hydrogen is a promising energy carrier, but also a valuable chemical used in a variety of industrial processes. Hydrogen is typically produced from natural gas by steam reforming, a process which requires high temperatures and generates CO2. More sustainable routes for H2 production exist. Water electrolysis, for example, is carried out at room temperature, H2 and O2 are the sole products of the reaction, and photovoltaics or wind turbines can supply the current. Unfortunately, several challenges remain. In particular, the efficiency and the stability of the catalysts employed at the anode and the cathode need to be improved. We address this issue by developing synergistic interactions between the catalyst support and the metallic active phase.

The student will join a dynamic group working on a variety of projects pertaining to the catalytic conversion of biomass and the production of renewable energy. The student will learn to synthesize nanostructured catalysts and to characterize them using state-of-the-art techniques available in the group and at the Ames Laboratory in order to establish structure-activity correlations. 

Program mentor: Jean-Philippe Tessonnier, Assistant Professor of Chemical & Biological Engineering, Iowa State University.