Electrochemical Characteristics of Solid Polymer Electrode Fabricated with Low IrO2 Loading for Water Electrolysis

  • Ban, Hee-Jung (Korea Institute of Industrial Technology (KITECH)) ;
  • Kim, Min Young (Korea Institute of Industrial Technology (KITECH)) ;
  • Kim, Dahye (Korea Institute of Industrial Technology (KITECH)) ;
  • Lim, Jinsub (Korea Institute of Industrial Technology (KITECH)) ;
  • Kim, Tae Won (Korea Institute of Industrial Technology (KITECH)) ;
  • Jeong, Chaehwan (Korea Institute of Industrial Technology (KITECH)) ;
  • Kim, Yoong-Ahm (Department of Advance Chemicals and Engineering, Chonnam National University) ;
  • Kim, Ho-Sung (Korea Institute of Industrial Technology (KITECH))
  • Received : 2018.07.03
  • Accepted : 2018.08.28
  • Published : 2019.03.31


To maximize the oxygen evolution reaction (OER) in the electrolysis of water, nano-grade $IrO_2$ powder with a low specific surface was prepared as a catalyst for a solid polymer electrolyte (SPE) system, and a membrane electrode assembly (MEA) was prepared with a catalyst loading as low as $2mg\;cm^{-2}$ or less. The $IrO_2$ catalyst was composed of heterogeneous particles with particle sizes ranging from 20 to 70 nm, having a specific surface area of $3.8m^2g^{-1}$. The anode catalyst layer of about $5{\mu}m$ thickness was coated on the membrane (Nafion 117) for the MEA by the decal method. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) confirmed strong adhesion at the interface between the membrane and the catalyst electrode. Although the loading of the $IrO_2$ catalyst was as low as $1.1-1.7mg\;cm^{-2}$, the SPE cell delivered a voltage of 1.88-1.93 V at a current density of $1A\;cm^{-2}$ and operating temperature of $80^{\circ}C$. That is, it was observed that the over-potential of the cell for the oxygen evolution reaction (OER) decreased with increasing $IrO_2$ catalyst loading. The electrochemical stability of the MEA was investigated in the electrolysis of water at a current density of $1A\;cm^{-2}$ for a short time. A voltage of ~2.0 V was maintained without any remarkable deterioration of the MEA characteristics.

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Fig. 1. Schematic of the SPE single-cell.

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Fig. 2. XRD patterns of Ir black and IrO2 powder.

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Fig. 3. SEM image of Ir black, IrO2 and Pt/C (40 wt%) powder.

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Fig. 4. SEM image showing the cross-section (a) of a fresh MEA with anode (IrO2) (b), and cathode (Pt/C (Pt 40 wt%)) (c), respectively.

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Fig. 5. SEM image showing the surface of IrO2 (a), Ir black (b) of anode, and Pt/C (Pt 40 wt%) (c) of cathode.

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Fig. 6. Impedance curves of MEA cells with various catalyst at 80°C and 10 mV (a), Nyquist plot feature (IrO2-3 as example) and the equivalent circuit for SPE water electrolysis (b).

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Fig. 7. Polarization curves (a), and over-potential (b) of the SPE water electrolysis cell with the MEAs prepared with iridium oxide catalyst and iridium black electrode at atmospheric pressure and 80°C.

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Fig. 8. Evaluation of stability of SPE cells with the indicated MEAs at 80°C and 1 A cm-2.

Table 1. Electrode design of single cells with various loading level.

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Supported by : KITECH


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