Using Additive Manufacturing to Fabricate Non-precious Metal Electrodes for Water Electrolysis

Alkaline exchange membrane water electrolysis (AEMWE) was studied in FES T06-P04, as it holds the promise to deliver green hydrogen without the use of scarce and expensive platinum group metal (PGM) catalysts. In FES T06-P04, Dr. Secanell's team developed in-house alkaline membrane electrolyzer fabrication and testing capabilities and was able to show excellent electrolyzer performance using anion exchange membrane and PGM catalysts. In parallel, Dr. Qureshi’s group was also able to show that laser power bed fusion (LPBF) 3D printing could be used to fabricate nickel and steel porous transport layers, which are suitable materials for water splitting in alkaline conditions.

We hypothesize that a non-PGM AEMWE with similar performance to state-of-the-art proton exchange membrane electrolyzers (which require PGM catalysts) can be fabricated using a nickel porous layer and nickel-alloy catalyst layer. Therefore, the aim of this project is to develop a proof-of-concept AEMWE using a LPBF porous transport layer and an inkjet-printed non-PGM catalyst layer. The prototype should be able to demonstrate that green electrolysis could be achieved without the use of expensive critical minerals and ‘forever’ chemicals.