The production and characterization of ceramic carbon electrode materials for CuCl-HCl electrolysis.
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Current H2 gas supplies are primarily produced through steam methane reforming and other fossil fuel based processes. This lack of viable large scale and environmentally friendly H2 gas production has hindered the wide spread adoption of H2 fuel cells. A potential solution to this problem is the Cu-Cl hybrid thermochemical cycle. The cycle captures waste heat to drive two thermochemical steps creating CuCl as well as O2 gas and HCl from CuCl2 and water. The CuCl is oxidized in HCl to produce H2 gas and regenerate CuCl2, this process occurs at potentials well below those required for water electrolysis. The electrolysis process occurs in a traditional PEM fuel-cell. In the aqueous anolyte media Cu(I) will form anionic complexes such as CuCl2- or CuCl32-. The slow transport of these species to the anode surface limits the overall electrolysis process. To improve this transport process we have produced ceramic carbon electrode (CCE) materials through a sol-gel method incorporating a selection of amine containing silanes with increasing numbers of primary and secondary amines. When protonated these amines allow for improved transport of anionic copper complexes. The electrochemical and physical characterization of these CCE materials in a half and full-cell electrolysis environment will be presented. Electrochemical analysis was performed using cell polarization, cyclic voltammetry, and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy.