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Study of the link between acidity and reaction kinetics in gas electrodes of high temperature electrolyzers

ABG-99390 Sujet de Thèse
21/07/2021 Contrat doctoral
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Institut des Matériaux Jean Rouxel
Nantes - Pays de la Loire - France
Study of the link between acidity and reaction kinetics in gas electrodes of high temperature electrolyzers
  • Chimie
  • Energie
  • Matériaux
electrolysis, hydrogen, electrocatalysis, oxides, solid state chemistry, catalysis, materials science

Description du sujet


Hydrogen production via high temperature electrolysis is a promising technology but it still requires further development to meet market needs. The constituents of electrolysis cells need to be improved with respect to their performance and stability, in order to drive the cost of the systems down. In particular, gas reactions at the electrodes are associated with potential drops (over potentials) that limit the efficiency of the cells. A better understanding of gas reactions at the electrodes could help in defining new strategies to limit those over potentials. This PhD proposal aims to establish new experimental protocols to study gas-electrodes interactions. Ultimately, we want to develop a better understanding of those interactions to be able to propose new and more accurate reactions models.



In a recent study from Dr Nicollet published in Nature Catalysis[1], we have shown that with a simple surface modification protocol of a catalyst, oxygen reduction reaction kinetics can be tuned by as much as 7 orders of magnitude. This effect was attributed to the surface acidity of the catalyst, which plays a central role in the reaction kinetics.

During this PhD work, the goal will be to continue this project and extend it to a broader range of materials with mixed conducting properties, and to other reactions happening at the electrodes (H2O reduction, H2 oxidation, etc.). The objective is to have a more complete view of gas-solid interaction to be able to determine the role of acidity more precisely. This will, in turn, improve the performance and durability of those systems.


[1] Nicollet, C. et al. Acidity of surface-infiltrated binary oxides as a sensitive descriptor of oxygen exchange kinetics in mixed conducting oxides. Nat Catal 3, 913–920 (2020)

Prise de fonction :


Nature du financement

Contrat doctoral

Précisions sur le financement

ANR Jeune Chercheur

Présentation établissement et labo d'accueil

Institut des Matériaux Jean Rouxel

Research environment and resources :

The PhD project will be done at the Institut des Matériaux Jean Rouxel in Nantes. The student will join the Electrochemical Energy Conversion and Storage team. The team has an extensive expertise studying ceramic materials for solid oxide fuel cells and electrolyzers. The electrocatalytic properties of the materials will be characterized by two newly set techniques available in the lab based on conductivity relaxation measurements. Those techniques will be adapted during the course of the project to study other reactions (H2O reduction, CO2 reduction, H2 oxidation, etc.). They will also be coupled with mass spectrometry to investigate the evolution of gas composition during those reactions. A collaboration with Professor Tuller at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) can also be considered for additional experiments regarding transport properties of the catalysts materials.

Intitulé du doctorat

Doctorat de Chimie

Pays d'obtention du doctorat


Etablissement délivrant le doctorat

Université de Nantes

Ecole doctorale

Matière, Molécules et Materiaux Pays de la Loire

Profil du candidat

The ideal candidate must have a strong scientific interest in fundamental studies and a desire to develop expertise in solid state chemistry and electrocatalysis. Graduate from a master degree program or equivalent, the candidate should have training in ceramic materials synthesis (solid state reaction, Pechini, soft chemistry), characterizations (chemical analysis, X-ray diffraction, spectroscopy and microscopy), and electrochemical characterizations (electrical conductivity measurements, impedance spectroscopy). He/She will take part in research activities of the team and will have the opportunity to present their work in national and international conferences.

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