Newswise — COLUMBUS, Ohio, October 24, 2019 -- Electrocatalysts accelerate energy conversion, which is an integral component to many industrially important technologies, such as fuel cells.  While many models show promising results to improving this approach, technologies to demonstrate a decrease in degradation to optimize performance are lacking.

At the AVS 66th International Symposium and Exhibition on Oct. 20-25 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio, Serhiy Cherevko, a physicist at the Institute of Energy and Climate Research, will talk about the challenges facing current electrocatalysis techniques and possible analytical tools to optimize this approach for widespread commercialization. 

Cherevko acknowledges a gap exists between lab results and real-world applications. Different methods to accelerate these reactions are degraded by particle agglomeration and detachment, Ostwald ripening, and structural and morphological changes. 

“The experimental results obtained in model environments cannot always be transferred to real devices,” Cherevko said. He cites iron-nitrogen-carbon catalysts for oxygen reduction reaction in alkaline fuel cells as an example. This product is stable in models but elusive in real-world systems. 

“Without a better understanding of catalyst performance (activity and stability), which can be obtained [from] advanced analytical tools, we will not be able to improve metal catalysts.” 

During this session, Cherevko and his colleagues will expand on the challenges of developing the next generation of electrochemical energy conversion technologies. They will examine various catalysts that appear promising and the processes that lead to degradation to optimize the materials needed for industry. 

“Discovery of new catalysts must go hand in hand with utilization of analytical tools in order to understand mechanisms governing their performance. This is a prerequisite for design of better catalysts,” Cherevko said. “I believe that on the long run analytical tools will make a financial difference to industry, [which] will require a much closer collaboration between research institution and industry.” 

In his talk, Cherevko will discuss new approaches, including online inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, online electrochemical mass spectrometry and transmission electron microscopy in electrocatalysis research, to clarify the mechanisms that lead to degradation. He will also cover applications of alternative non-noble metal catalysts in the energy conversion technologies and their stability. 

“We already have commercial fuel cells in cars,” Cherevko said. “I believe that as soon as our society is ready to accept these technologies, the required catalysts will be there.” 


Presentation: “Stability Challenges in Electrocatalysis,” Serhiy Cherevko, Olga Kasian and Simon Geiger. Thursday, Oct. 24, 4:00 p.m., Room A212 in the Greater Columbus Convention Center, Columbus, Ohio 


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