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Yushan Yan1

1, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware, United States

One of the grand challenges facing humanity today is the development of an alternative energy system that is safe, clean, and sustainable and where combustion of fossil fuels no longer dominates. A distributed renewable electrochemical energy and mobility system (DREEMS) based on cheap renewable electricity could meet this challenge. At the foundation of this new energy system, we have chosen to study a number of electrochemical devices including fuel cells, electrolyzers, and flow batteries. We have been working on the development of hydroxide exchange membrane fuel cells (HEMFCs) and electrolyzers (HEMELs) which can work with nonprecious metal catalysts and inexpensive hydrocarbon polymer membranes. We have developed roadmaps for HEMFCs and HEMELs, the most chemically stable membranes, and the most active nonprecious metal catalysts. We have also studied why hydrogen oxidation and evolution reactions (HOR/HER) are slower in base than in acid for precious metal catalysts. For flow batteries we have developed novel designs, chemistries and cost models e.g., double-membrane aqueous flow batteries with high voltages (i.e., 3 V), single-element-mimic redox pairs, and user friendly physics-based analytical cost models. In this presentation, I will focus on our HEMEL work highlighting a new class of membranes, nonprecious metal catalysts and base/salt-free HEMEL cells for hydrogen production.

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