Tuning Catalyst Activation and Utilization Via Controlled Electrode Patterning for Low-Loading and High-Efficiency Water Electrolyzers

Shule Yu, Kui Li, Weitian Wang, Zhiqiang Xie, Lei Ding, Zhenye Kang, Jacob Wrubel, Zhiwen Ma, Guido Bender, Haoran Yu, Jefferey Baxter, David Cullen, Alex Keane, Kathy Ayers, Christopher Capuano, Feng-Yuan Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus Citations


An anode electrode concept of thin catalyst-coated liquid/gas diffusion layers (CCLGDLs), by integrating Ir catalysts with Ti thin tunable LGDLs with facile electroplating in proton exchange membrane electrolyzer cells (PEMECs), is proposed. The CCLGDL design with only 0.08 mgIr cm−2 can achieve comparative cell performances to the conventional commercial electrode design, saving ≈97% Ir catalyst and augmenting a catalyst utilization to ≈24 times. CCLGDLs with regulated patterns enable insight into how pattern morphology impacts reaction kinetics and catalyst utilization in PEMECs. A specially designed two-sided transparent reaction-visible cell assists the in situ visualization of the PEM/electrode reaction interface for the first time. Oxygen gas is observed accumulating at the reaction interface, limiting the active area and increasing the cell impedances. It is demonstrated that mass transport in PEMECs can be modified by tuning CCLGDL patterns, thus improving the catalyst activation and utilization. The CCLGDL concept promises a future electrode design strategy with a simplified fabrication process and enhanced catalyst utilization. Furthermore, the CCLGDL concept also shows great potential in being a powerful tool for in situ reaction interface research in PEMECs and other energy conversion devices with solid polymer electrolytes.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number2107745
Number of pages13
Issue number14
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Wiley-VCH GmbH.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5900-82281


  • catalyst utilization
  • hydrogen production
  • in situ visualization
  • integrated thin/tunable electrodes
  • proton exchange membrane water electrolyzers


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