Nanoscale electrochemical imaging of catalyst inks for water oxidation

March 28th, 2022

R&D Focus Areas:

Lead Organisation:
Queensland University of Technology

University of Warwick, United Kingdom


Start date:
January 2018

Completion date:
December 2022

Key contacts:
Professor Anthony O’Mullane:

Australian Research Council: AUD$372,000

Project total cost:
Total of AUD$612,000 including cash and in-kind contributions

Project summary description:
The main aim of the project is to develop new catalyst formulations applicable to electrochemical water splitting under alkaline conditions.

A series of transition metal oxides, hydroxides, phosphides, and sulfides were developed and tested as well as restructuring materials such as stainless steels and iron ores. Many showed excellent promise for water splitting.

The project also sought to understand structure/property – activity relationships and determine changes that occur to catalysts after electrocatalytic reactions. This was investigated with both ex situ and in situ techniques to study amorphous to crystalline transitions in these materials as well as significant composition changes. This was achieved with conventional techniques as well as new surface mapping techniques such as scanning electrochemical cell microscopy and X-ray fluorescence microscopy at the Australian Synchrotron to probe surface heterogeneity. Significant structural and compositional changes can be observed providing information of the true active state or sites in the material which differ to the synthesised materials.

The project also sought to upscale promising formulations to a larger scale that can facilitate long term testing at commercially relevant current densities. Currently, a 2-kW electrolyser is being developed using one of the catalysts developed in this project.

Related publications and key links:
Advanced Materials Technologies, 2022, DOI: 10.1002/admt.202100705.
ChemSusChem, 2021, 14, 1767.
Chemistry an Asian Journal, 2020, 15, 4339.
ChemElectroChem, 2020, 7, 4369.
Electrochimica Acta, 2020, 362, 137212.
ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, 2020, 12, 44307.
J Physics Energy, 2020, 2, 041001.
iScience, 2020, 23, 101264.
Sustainable Materials and Technologies, 2020, 25, e00177.
ChemElectroChem, 2020, 7, 2073.
ACS Applied Energy Materials, 2020, 3, 1439.
Analyst, 2019, 144, 7318.
ChemElectroChem, 2019, 6, 3667.
ChemPhysChem, 2019, 20, 3112.
ChemElectroChem, 2019, 6, 2630.
Advanced Functional Materials, 2018, 1804361.

Higher degree studies supported:
One postdoctoral fellow
One PhD student completed
One PhD student completing


Reviewed: November 2022