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Advertising division: IEK-3 - Electrochemical Process Engineering
Reference number: D132/2018, Chemistry, materials science or chemical engineering

Master thesis: Gas permeation in water electrolysers based on polymer electrolyte membranes

Start of work: by arrangement

Low-temperature (< 100 °C) water electrolysis can be employed to produce hydrogen using renewable energy sources. Of the two main approaches (the other being alkaline electrolysis), polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) electrolysis is preferable in terms of its suitability for operation at high current densities (meaning more hydrogen is produced and at higher purity) and at high pressures (meaning it is not necessary to compress the produced hydrogen for storage).

These devices are nonetheless subject to a number of vagaries, of which the permeation of produced gases across the membrane to the opposite electrode is foremost among the concerns of those who use PEM electrolysers on an industrial scale. Not only does gas cross-over constitute a faradaic inefficiency, it also poses a serious safety hazard in that the resulting mixtures of hydrogen and oxygen can be explosive.

Your task:
The aim of this project is to investigate the effects various operating parameters have on gas permeation, and to eventually establish mitigation strategies. At our institute we have developed our own method for the high-throughput fabrication of catalyst-coated membranes for PEM electrolysis. These can be easily incorporated into cells and operated using our state-of-the-art test-stations. Gas chromatography then allows us to monitor the composition of the gaseous mixtures formed at each of the two electrodes during operation.

Techniques to be used:
Electrochemistry, gas chromatography, scanning electron microscopy.

University studies in chemistry, materials science or chemical engineering; ability to work autonomously; ability to work through the medium of English.

Dr. Gareth P. Keeley
Institute of Energy and Climate Research (IEK)
IEK-3: Electrochemical Process Engineering
52425 Jülich