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MSc graduation assignment: CO tolerant electrocatalyst development for electrochemical hydrogen purification

MSc graduation assignment



CO tolerant electrocatalyst development for electrochemical hydrogen purification

1         Introduction

HyET Hydrogen B.V. in Arnhem, The Netherlands is a growing high tech start-up company developing and producing electrochemical hydrogen purification and compression technology. H2 is an energy carrier used for solar and wind energy storage and fuel cell powered vehicles. H2 is also produced and converted at large scale in refineries and the chemical/process industry. All these applications require high purity and pressurised hydrogen that can be obtained using HyET’s quiet energy efficient and cost-effective processing technology.

The working principle is based on 1) a voltage driven electrochemical oxidation of hydrogen to protons, 2) subsequent migration of these protons through an electrically insulating and gas impermeable polymer membrane and 3) final re-combination of these protons with electrons to re-produce high purity/pressure molecular hydrogen. This process is selective for hydrogen allowing hydrogen purification. The EHC cell very much resembles PEM fuel cells structure, incorporating electrocatalyst layers sandwiching a proton conducting polymer membrane.

Succesfull product development at HyET requires a multi-disciplinary approach, ranging from electrochemical materials development/testing, via mechanical EHC module design/testing, to system&software design/control.

HyET has opportunities for students looking for a dynamic and challenging high tech working environment where technological goals are achieved by autonomous co-workers collaborating in an interdisciplinary team of H2 enthousiasts. Students in chemistry, chemical/mechanical engineering and system control & software engineering have successfully completed their internship or graduation assignment at HyET. Are you next?

2         Assignment

Project goal:

Develop ceramic coating containing Pt/carbon black catalyst for electrochemical hydrogen pumping with CO tolerance

Project description:

The hydrogen oxidation in an EHC can be hindered by contaminants like carbon monoxide blocking the active sites of the Pt/carbon black electrocatalyst. Biobased hydrogen mixtures and mixtures from steam methane reforming, being the mostly used process to produce hydrogen (CH4 + 2H2O à 4H2 + CO2 )  can contain substantial amounts of CO (upto 1% as obtained via CH4 + H2O à 3H2 + CO) that adsorbes to the Pt surface, blocking the H2 and its oxidation. The photocatalytic synthesis group at Twente University (, and HyET Hydrogen ( are collaborating in project “CO-TECH” to improve CO tolerance of the EHC technology. Exploratory electrochemical research has already been performed at Twente University on the electrochemical behaviour of modified Pt electrodes, showing promising HOR activity and CO tolerance. However, these electrodes are model electrodes which cannot be processed into full-size electrodes for the EHC cell. Therefore, this MSc assignment asks for the development of Pt/carbon black electrocatalysts with a protective layer modification to provide electrocatalytic HOR activity in the presence of CO. Wet chemical preparation of the materials, materials characterisation using e.g. electronic microscopy, their conversion into electrodes and membrane-electrode-assemblies and eventual electrochemical characterisation and EHC testing are part of this MSc graduation project. For more details please contact Assistant Professor Dr. Bastian Mei (

Required student expertise:

Date: 25-Jun-20


For further information please contact:

Catalysis / chemistry

Chemical Engineering