Development of Low Temperature Catalysts for an Integrated Ammonia PEM Fuel Cell

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


It is proposed that an integrated ammonia-PEM fuel cell could unlock the potential of ammonia to act as a high capacity chemical hydrogen storage vector and enable renewable energy to be delivered eectively to road transport applications. Catalysts are developed for low temperature ammonia decomposition with activity from 450 K (ruthenium and cesium on graphitised carbon nanotubes). Results strongly suggest that the cesium is present on the surface and close proximity to ruthenium nanoparticles and that it produces activity in ruthenium by donation of electrons. The activity of sustainable cobalt for ammonia decomposition is shown to be a function of particle size and is more active on microporous carbon supports compared to mesoporous ones. Unlike ruthenium, activity for cobalt was not inuenced by the degree of surface graphitic nature and cobalt supported on microporous carbon approached the activity of ruthenium on the same support.In accordance with the sustainable objectives of this thesis, a case-study on the sustainability of ammonia as a sustainable hydrogen storage vector was undertaken. In this scheme, hydrogen produced from renewable electricity by electrolysis is con- verted to ammonia by the Haber-Bosch process and then converted back to deliver pure hydrogen at the point of use. The energy eciency and carbon footprint fell short of targets set by the US Department of Energy and the UK Department for Transport, the biggest impact was the production of hydrogen by electrolysis and not the Haber-Bosch process which accounts for only 9 % of total energy losses. To assess the feasibility of the ammonia-PEM fuel cell, a conceptual design was un- dertaken to quantify the palladium membrane size and catalyst quantity required for a typical road transport vehicle. The predicted quantity of palladium was excessive and future work must consider improvements to membrane technology.
Date of Award6 Jul 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorLaura Torrente Murciano (Supervisor), Frank Marken (Supervisor) & Pejman Iravani (Supervisor)


  • Ammonia Decomposition
  • Heterogeneous Catalysts
  • Ruthenium
  • Cesium
  • Carbon Nanotubes
  • Ammonia Fuel Cell
  • Sustainability

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