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Solène Gentil

Hydrogen oxidation and oxygen reduction reactions catalyzed by bioinspired catalysts and enzymes connected on nanostructured electrodes: Design of platinum-free H2/air fuel cells

Published on 15 November 2017


Thesis presented on November 15, 2017

Abstract:
New energy technologies alternative to fossil fuels utilization is a key issue to mitigate greenhouse gases emission and develop a sustainable economy. In this context, platinum-based proton exchange membrane fuel cells use oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) and hydrogen oxidation reaction (HOR) to convert chemical energy into electrical energy. In nature multicopper oxidases and hydrogenases catalyze these two reactions, respectively. These enzymes and corresponding bioinspired catalysts have been used as alternatives to the rare and expensive platinum metal. First, a mononuclear bis-diphosphine nickel complex surrounded by arginine residues was immobilized onto carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and demonstrated excellent performances for HOR developing high current densities over a wide range of pH. This anode was integrated in a PEMFC, which achieved high power densities (15 mW cm-2), only five times lower as compared to classical PEMFC prepared under similar conditions. Regarding ORR catalysis, we covalently grafted LLaccases from Trametes sp C30 multicopper oxidases onto NTCs electrodes and achieved direct electron transfer. Using, bilirubin oxidase deposited on CNTs at the cathode side, we proposed a new concept of hybrid enzymatic/bio-inspired H2/air fuel cell. This hydrogen fuel cell delivered 1.8 mW.cm-2 and a high open circuit voltage of 1V. Finally, various copper complexes inspired from the active sites of copper enzymes were assessed for ORR and the first H2/air fuel cell containing noble metal-free molecular catalysts at both electrodes is reported, achieving 160 µW.cm-2 power density.


Keywords:
Electrocatalysis, Hydrogen Oxidation Reaction, Oxygen Reduction Reaction, Enzymes, Carbon Nanotubes