Molecular modelling and experimental investigation of the oxygen reduction reaction in PEM fuel cells


Supervisors: Professor Mohamed Pourkashanian, Professor Lin Ma, Professor Derek Ingham and Dr Kevin Hughes.

Polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells are of great promise for future energy production systems, encompassing large scale down to portable power source applications, with the promise of high efficiency and minimal pollutant emission. A major drawback is the cost of production, dominated by the quantity of an expensive platinum catalyst required for the oxygen reduction reaction. Recent research indicates promising replacement catalysts based on non-metal carbon compounds doped with a variety of elements (for example nitrogen, sulphur, selenium).

This project will involve the use of the Gaussian 09 program to perform detailed electronic structure modelling of candidate systems to assess their efficacy and investigate the detailed mechanism of these oxygen reduction reactions. In addition, we will synthesise promising candidates and test their performance in our experimental fuel cell test facilities, where we have the equipment to manufacture and test our own PEM fuel cells.

For further information contact Professor Derek B Ingham (

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