ElectroCat: DOE's Approach to PGM-Free Catalyst and Electrode R&D

Kenneth Neyerlin, Simon Thompson, Adria Wilson, Piotr Zelenay, Deborah Myers, Karren More, Dimitrios Papageorgopoulos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

122 Scopus Citations


The successful development of high-performance, durable platinum group metal-free (PGM-free) electrocatalysts and electrodes for polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) will ultimately improve the cost-competiveness of fuel cells in a wide range of applications. This is considered to be a critical development especially for automotive fuel cell applications in order to bring the system cost of an automotive fuel cell system down to the $30/kW cost target set by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The platinum group metal (PGM) electrocatalysts are a major contributor to the system cost. Addressing the technical challenges to PGM-free electrocatalyst and electrode development, therefore, represents one of DOE's most pressing research and development (R&D) priorities. ElectroCat was formed by the DOE as part of the Energy Materials Network (EMN) in early 2016, and shares with other EMN consortia the goal of decreasing the time to market for advanced materials related to clean energy technologies, in the context of increasing U.S. fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) manufacturing competitiveness. To accomplish this, the consortium performs core research and development and provides universities and companies streamlined access to the unique, world-class set of tools and expertise relevant to early-stage applied PGM-free catalyst R&D of the member national laboratories. Moreover, ElectroCat fosters a systematic methodology by which prospective catalysts and electrodes are prepared and analyzed rapidly and comprehensively using high-throughput, combinatorial methods. Catalyst discovery is augmented by theory as well as foundational electrocatalysis and materials knowledge at the participating national laboratories. Furthermore, ElectroCat has developed a data sharing framework, requisite of all EMN consortia, for disseminating its findings to the public via a searchable database, to further expedite incorporation of PGM-free electrocatalysts into next-generation fuel cells by advancing the general understanding of the PGM-free electrocatalyst field.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)68-76
Number of pages9
JournalSolid State Ionics
StatePublished - Jun 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5900-71058


  • Electrodes
  • MEA
  • Oxygen reduction reaction
  • PGM-free electrocatalysts


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