Novel Nano-Composite Catalysts for Renewable Energy Storage Applications
Devaguptapu, Surya Vamsi
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Spinel NiCo 2 O 4 catalysts are considered the promising precious metal-free catalyst for oxygen reactions. Significant efforts are mainly explore optimal chemical doping and substituent to tune its electronic structures for enhanced performance. Here, we focuses on morphology control and determine the morphology-dependent activity for bifunctional oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) and oxygen evolution reaction (OER). In particular, three types of spinel NiCo 2 O 4 were prepared using temple-free, SiO 2 hard template, and Pluronic-123 soft template hydrothermal methods, showing significantly different morphologies, respectively. In particular, template-free method yield dense structures. Sold-template method assists the formation of porous and hollow structures. Importantly, the soft template is effective to prepare a unique nanoflower morphology containing abundant rose petal (needle) like structures. The effect of the utilization of templates, both soft and hard as well as a template free synthesis on the morphology as well as the activity and stability of the final catalyst is investigated. Compared to others, the nanoflower-like NiCo 2 O 4 exhibited the highest bifunctional catalytic activity simultaneously for ORR and OER, likely due to the facile absorption of oxygen molecules on increased surface areas with efficient mass transfer. The nanoflower NiCo 2 O 4 also exhibited an onset and half-wave potentials of 0.94 and 0.82 V for the ORR in alkaline media. Although it is still inferior to state of the art Pt, the new type of spinel NiCo 2 O 4 catalyst represents the best activity compared to reported carbon-free oxides. Meanwhile, OER activity and stability were achieved with an onset potential of 1.48 V generating a current density of 14 mA/cm 2 at 1.6 V. The OER activity does not declined after 10,000 potential cycles demonstrating excellent stability, which is superior to the benchmark of Ir for the OER. This work provides an effective solution to enhance catalytic activity and stability of oxides by engineering their morphology and nanostructures. The high performance bifunctional oxide catalyst is carbon free and can eventually overcome the stability issue for reversible fuel cell and metal-air battery applications. In addition, we have synthesized highly active transition metal doped Carbon Nano Tubes of very small thickness called Graphene Tubes which when integrated with metal oxides can lead to enhanced activity and durability for ORR and OER with current density as high as 25mAcm -2 at 1.6V vs RHE for OER and an onset potential of 1.0V vs RHE during ORR. Finally, we conclude by giving a brief description of the Hydrogen Economy and the role that ammonia decomposition can play in achieving the potential of hydrogen economy. We detail the synthesis procedures of some highly active transition metal nitride- alkali metal imide composites and study their activity for ammonia decomposition. The catalysts show conversion efficiencies as high as 95%.