Oxide-supported Ir nanodendrites with high activity and durability for the oxygen evolution reaction in acid PEM water electrolyzers
Reducing the noble-metal catalyst content of acid Polymer Electrolyte Membrane (PEM) water electrolyzers without compromising catalytic activity and stability is a goal of fundamental scientific interest and substantial technical importance for cost-effective hydrogen-based energy storage. This study presents nanostructured iridium nanodendrites (Ir-ND) supported on antimony doped tin oxide (ATO) as efficient and stable water splitting catalysts for PEM electrolyzers. The active Ir-ND structures exhibited superior structural and morphological properties, such as particle size and surface area compared to commercial state-of-art Ir catalysts. Supported on tailored corrosion-stable conductive oxides, the Ir-ND catalysts exhibited a more than 2-fold larger kinetic water splitting activity compared with supported Ir nanoparticles, and a more than 8-fold larger catalytic activity than commercial Ir blacks. In single-cell PEM electrolyzer tests, the Ir-ND/ATO outperformed commercial Ir catalysts more than 2-fold at technological current densities of 1.5 A cm−2 at a mere 1.80 V cell voltage, while showing excellent durability under constant current conditions. We conclude that Ir-ND/ATO catalysts have the potential to substantially reduce the required noble metal loading, while maintaining their catalytic performance, both in idealized three-electrode set ups and in the real electrolyzer device environments.