Characterizing Dynamic Materials and Systems for Sustainable Electrocatalytic Technologies

Sep 11, 2024, 4:00 pm5:00 pm



Event Description

Electrochemical processes provide a unique set of parameters to optimize catalyst material and reactor performance, including fine tuning via modified electronic structures, applied electric potentials, and solvent effects. In addition, they enable operation at atmospheric temperature and pressure, produce few pollutants, and provide a mechanism for storage and conversion of vital renewable electricity sources. However, these unique reaction environments also commonly induce complex rearrangement of the catalyst electronic and geometric structures, such that the operational catalyst active sites do not resemble the pristine synthesized materials.

We use controlled material syntheses and advanced spectroscopy techniques to monitor dynamic behavior of catalysts in response to electrocatalytic reaction conditions. Notably, we have developed several iridium-based perovskite and precious metal-free catalyst materials to establish electronic structure effects associated with systematic changes in composition, crystallinity, and strain. We also employ a range of reactor geometries spanning fundamental rotating ring disk electrode setups to applied membrane electrode assemblies to probe and understand the relationships between bulk reactor parameters, local catalyst reaction environments, and catalyst performance outcomes. We use these materials, reactor systems, and operando spectroscopy techniques to elucidate trends in catalyst structural reorganization and activation / degradation mechanisms induced by relevant reaction conditions. With these tools, we investigate a range of oxidative and reductive processes for water / hydrogen / oxygen / peroxide systems as well as more complex organic species. Benchmarking performance and intrinsic material stabilities for catalysts based on platinum and non-platinum group metals provides a critical outlook for the future of emergent technologies based on these processes. With this work, the Seitz lab aims to exploit electrochemical processes and reaction environments to understand and harness catalyst material dynamics to achieve enhanced activity, selectivity, and stability for sustainable production of fuels and chemicals.