Ph.D. Dissertation Proposal – Abhinav Poozhikunnath


Event Name: Ph.D. Dissertation Proposal - Abhinav Poozhikunnath

Date of Event: January 9, 2019

Brief Description: A Materials Science and Engineering Ph.D. dissertation for the candidate Abhinav Poozhikunnath


Presenter: Abhinav Poozhikunnath

Major Advisor: Dr. Radenka Maric

Associate Advisors: Dr. Mark Aindow, Dr. Jasna Jankovic, Dr. Sina Shahbazmohamadi

Title: Characterization and Optimization of Platinum Group Metal-Free Oxygen Reduction Electrocatalysts Synthesized by Flame Spray Pyrolysis


An in-depth analysis of the physical, chemical and electrochemical characteristics of a class of carbon-based Platinum Group Metal-free (PGM-free) electrocatalysts synthesized by the flame spray pyrolysis of organic precursors has been proposed in this thesis. This work is motivated by the significant commercial and scientific interest in replacing expensive noble metal-based Oxygen Reduction Reaction (ORR) electrocatalysts with less-expensive alternatives of comparable performance. As part of this work, the properties and performance of iron and nitrogen doped carbon-based electrocatalysts (referred to as Fe-N-C) will be studied, with the final objective of developing a cost-effective method for mass-producing PGM-free catalyst layers for use in low temperature fuel cells. Central to this work is the synthesis of the Fe-N-C electrocatalysts using an open atmosphere flame spray pyrolysis technique, which has not been reported previously. The flame spray pyrolysis technique, called Reactive Spray Deposition Technology (RSDT), has been used to deposit Fe-N-C catalyst material through the partial combustion of an organic solvent mixture containing dissolved iron and nitrogen precursors. A combination of electron microscopy and spectroscopy-based characterization was used to confirm the presence of nitrogen doped graphitic carbon and Fe-Nx ORR active sites. Electrochemical tests show that the RSDT-deposited Fe-N-C exhibits excellent performance in alkaline media with an onset potential of 0.85 V vs Reversible Hydrogen Electrode (RHE) and a calculated mass-activity of 6.5 A/g (at 0.7 V vs RHE). These results are comparable to the reported performance of Fe-N-C catalysts synthesized by typical multi-step furnace-based processes, and encourage future work focused on understanding the relationship between RSDT deposition parameters and catalyst properties in order to optimize performance and fabricate a Fe-N-C catalyst coated membrane for fuel cell applications.

Location: I.M.S. Room 101

Institute of Material Science Building

Storrs / Mansfield Connecticut 06269

Citizenship Requirements: Open to All

Open To: Open to General Public


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