Three-Dimensional Printing of Catalytic Electrodes for Solar-Driven Water-Splitting Devices

Siwei Liang | 19-FS-047


Hydrogen production through water-splitting systems shows promise in achieving the DOE's cost target of less than $2/kg. Most research efforts have been devoted to new electrocatalytic materials discovery. In contrast, the impact of the architecture of the electrocatalysts and mass transport within the gas diffusion layers have not been explored.

In this project, we developed a new ink formulation with the Earth-abundant elements nickel and molybdenum (NiMo) for low cost, catalytic 3D electrodes in water-splitting devices. The NiMo electrodes fabricated via additive manufacturing were characterized and tested and their architecture, morphology, and composition confirmed by scanning electron microscopy and powder x-ray diffraction. The catalyst precursor survived the complete fabrication and post-treatment process. Furthermore, the NiMo 3D electrodes exhibited state-of-art hydrogen evolution reaction performance, approximately 60 mV overpotential for over 24 hours of operation. The electrodes' high performance is attributed to their large roughness factor and highly efficient mass transport. The success of this project has opened the door to fabrication of novel electrode materials and optimization strategies for the next generation of low-cost, solar hydrogen water-splitting devices, an important step towards achieving the $2/kg DOE goal.

Impact on Mission

This study aligns with DOE initiatives to scale hydrogen production, and it supports Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's energy security mission focus. The study also builds on the Laboratory's core capabilities in advanced manufacturing and energy-related advanced materials.