Prof. Kamal Krishna Kar


Umang Gupta Chair Professor
Professor, Department of Mechanical En

and Materials Science Programme
Indian Institute of Technology

Kanpur 208016, UP, India

                                           Phone: (+91) (512) 2597687/2598703/(+91) (0)9415081153

                                                                                                     Fax: (+91) (512) 2597408



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Positions are available for highly motivated & hardworking doctoral & postdoctoral fellows

Area of Interests


Catalysts for Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell/Water Purification

Depleting fossil fuel reservoirs and rising environmental concerns have put forward the demand to develop sustainable and environmentally friendly power sources and to use the available energy reservoirs more efficiently. Among others, hydrogen based fuel cells that convert the chemical energy of hydrogen to electric energy electrochemically with zero emission of greenhouse gases can provide a power conversion efficiency of ~80%, significantly higher compared to those of internal combustion (IC) engines, have attained significant attention. Low working temperature, H2-O2 based polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells (PEMFCs) may be used for low to medium power requirements extending from household equipments to transportation.

However, large-scale application of PEMFCs is throttled principally by the requirement of cathode and anode catalyst layers, which use platinum or other noble metal nanoparticles as the catalysts for the cathode as well as anode half-cell reactions. Hence, the development of noble metal free catalysts for the cathode and anode catalyst layers is of significant importance. Among others, heteroatom (N, P, S, B, etc.) doped carbons have recently attained significant attention owing to their high ORR catalytic activity and other properties suitable for cathode catalyst layers. In a recent study, a heteroatom-doped carbon (CNx) ORR catalyst has been derived from chicken featherfiber (CFF), a biomass-based precursor. Preliminary studies carried out to explore the electrocatalytic properties suggest high ORR catalytic performance of the CNx derived from CFF. The CNx, being composed of N and S containing carbon and owing to its unique networked structure, is a potential candidate for Pt-free cathode catalyst layer. However, fabrication and performance evaluation of a PEMFC based on such Pt-free cathode catalyst layers need to be performed for development of marketable cost efficient fuel cells. Optimization of the processing conditions for the biomass derived ORR catalyst to achieve high ORR activity, high stability and electronic conductivity need to be performed to achieve low overpotentials and high power conversion efficiency.

According to 'Fuel cell technologies market report 2014' by Fuel Cell Technologies Office, DOE, US, October 2015, fuel cell industry has witnessed a growth from $1.3 billion in 2013 to $2.2 billion in 2014. In 2014, the agency has provided funding awards of ~ $43 million for fuel cell research & development. According to ongoing market trends, the industry is projected to grow significantly in near future (to $5.2 billion by 2019). Since large-scale applications of PEMFCs in areas such as transportation are restricted by their high cost, considerable attention is being focused worldwide towards development of Pt-free cathode catalyst layers for PEMFCs. A year wise trend of number of publications dealing with doped carbon-based ORR electrocatalysts (Fig) suggests significant scientific efforts being deployed in the area.