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Bio-engineered gas diffusion electrodes (GDEs) for proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs)

Courtney, James Matthew (2011)
M.Res. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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The current cost and finite nature of Platinum Group Metals (PGM) is a barrier to the successful commercialisation of Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells (PEMFCs). Successful mass production of fuel cell components combined with the recovery of PGMs from waste, more efficient PGM use or the replacement of PGMs catalyst is necessary to reduce costs per unit. Current hydrometallurgy and pyrometallurgy techniques do not provide a ‘clean’ or economically viable solution to PGM recovery when compared to bio-hydrometallurgy. Bio-catalysts can be manufactured by coupling the oxidation of hydrogen to the reduction of soluble metallic species [e.g. Pd(II), Pt(IV)] via Hydrogenase enzymes. The work presented in this thesis aims to evaluate the incorporation of biohydrometallurgy in producing Gas Diffusion Electrodes (GDEs) for PEM Fuel cell applications. The biomineralisation and subsequent catalytic activity of spin coated engineered biofilms is investigated, as is the use of planktonic cell generated bio-catalysts in traditional GDE fabrication via screen printing. Although biofilms were found to produce layers containing active PGM particles, the films proved to be nonconductive. As such, it was concluded that although biofilms provide huge potential in the recovery and subsequent use of PGM catalysts, at present, they are unsuitable for Fuel Cell use.

Type of Work:M.Res. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Tsoligkas, Andreas N. and Pollet, Bruno G
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Engineering & Physical Sciences
Department:School of Chemical Engineering
Subjects:TP Chemical technology
TN Mining engineering. Metallurgy
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:1434
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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