Area of Interests
advanced materials including nanopolymers,
and functionally graded composites,
including multiscale composites,
of polymeric products,
of Military Battle Tank Arjuna
of materials in Fuel
performance structural composites,
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
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
cathode and anode catalyst layers,
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.