Hydrogen Generation with Nanotextured Cobalt Catalyst

Open Access
Author:
Yau, Allison
Area of Honors:
Engineering Science
Degree:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Melik C Demirel, Thesis Supervisor
  • Clifford Jesse Lissenden Iii, Honors Advisor
  • Judith A Todd, Faculty Reader
Keywords:
  • hydrogen generation
  • cobalt
  • nanotextured catalyst
  • polycarbonate
  • nanoPPX
  • PEM fuel cell
  • NaBH4
Abstract:
Developing environmentally friendly, sustainable, and inexpensive energy sources is one of the greatest challenges today. Thus far, the most promising approach seems to be the use of hydrogen to generate electricity via a proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell. While fuel cell technology is fast approaching commercial viability, there are still issues with developing cost-effective ways to safely store and extract hydrogen, especially for transportation applications. The chemical hydride storage method offers various materials with high energy densities that could potentially be dispensed via liquid form using an infrastructure akin to today’s gasoline refueling stations. Hydrogen can then be rapidly extracted from these storage systems by means of a metal catalyst. Unfortunately, despite the many advantages of this system, the high cost of the noble-metal catalysts usually used have made it not economically viable. Nonetheless, it is well known that the rate hydrogen is generated via a metal catalyst is directly proportional to the active surface area of the catalyst. It has also been demonstrated in literature that the amount of active surface area of the catalyst can be increased through deposition of the catalyst onto a nanotextured surface. The increased amount of active surface area available to react to the hydride solution may be used to overcome the lower catalytic activity of less expensive, non-noble metals such as cobalt. In this thesis, work is done to design a nanotextured cobalt catalyst that is inexpensive but can generate hydrogen from a chemical hydride solution at rates comparable to other hydrogen generation systems.