Compositions and methods for enhancing electrocatalytic efficiencies

Principal Investigators: Jianjun Wei, Zheng Zeng

Application Number: PCT/US19/47675

UNCG Innovation: 18-0004

Category: Nanoscience

This disclosure is to describe a method to use magnetic field to enhance the electrocatalytic efficiency of any transition metal oxides which can be used for catalyze the oxygen evolution reaction (OER), such as the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) in fuel cell, metal-air batteries, and hydrogen evolution reaction (HER), such as the hydrogen generation from water (e.g. water splitting). The metal oxides can be incorporated to other components such as carbon materials, or nanostructured carbon materials, metal substrates or electrodes materials at any types of formats. Examples of such metal oxides, e.g. MnO2, Co3O4, Fe3O4, TiO2, NiOx) or incorporated composites mostly possess magnetic susceptibility. The principle of the efficiency enhancement is hypothesized according to the improved electron or charge transportation under magnetic field when the metal oxides or composites are used for electrocatalysis. Some of preliminary work by using one or two of the metal oxide composites has been performed and demonstrated the efficiency enhancement under milli-tesla (mT) strength of magnetic field.

Immediate & Future Applications:
There is demand of fuel cells or fuel generators in which catalysts are used. Applying a small external magnetic field on metal oxides can be replacement of noble metals, e.g. platinum Pt based catalysts, reducing the risk of the fuel cell degradation and maximizing energy output, and efficiency in fuel generation.

These metal oxide catalysts can be used in many types of fuel cell products and fuel generators. Here is a list of a few:

  • Fuel cells, and proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells.
  • Metal-air electrochemical cells
  • Metal-air batteries
  • Photoelectrochemical cells for water splitting
  • Hydrogen generators from water electrolysis

Inventor info: Jianjun Wei

Inventor Info: Zheng Zeng