Modern gas turbines and fuel cells (Theme 2) are efficient ways of turning gas into electrical energy. However, converting electrical energy back into gas has not yet been achieved at a commercial scale. The broad goal of this theme is to better integrate the power and gas grids by developing efficient and cost-effective methods for converting surplus electrical power into usable gas.
WATER ELECTROLYSIS USING NON-PLATINUM MATERIALS
A water electrolyser is a clean process capable of converting surplus electricity generated by renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, into H2. The H2 can be readily stored for subsequent use in fuel cell stacks (see Theme 2), as a feedstock for converting CO2 into methane (Subtheme 3.3) or converted into ammonia (Subtheme 3.4). The active component in conventional water electrolysis cathodes is typically platinum (or other platinum-group metals). Platinum is both scarce and costly relative to carbon and other transition metals, and a suitable alternative needs to be found. The subtheme will build on current research to further develop high- efficiency water electrolysers centred on non-platinum materials. Transition metals such as nickel and cobalt and, even better, carbon (a non-metal), as well as blends of these elements have exhibited similar and in some cases better activity relative to platinum-based systems. Importantly, these non-platinum systems have been shown to perform well in in alkaline and near-neutral electrolytes, including natural seawater. The advantages of such systems include high feasibility, low cost and high efficiency.
SCIENTIA PROF. ROSE AMAL
Scientia Professor Rose Amal is an ARC Laureate Fellow with over 25 years’ experience in the field of fine particle technology, photo-catalysis, and functional materials.