Resistance and polarization losses in aqueous buffer-membrane electrolytes for water-splitting photoelectrochemical cells

Emil A. Hernández-Pagán, Nella M. Vargas-Barbosa, Tsinghai Wang, Yixin Zhao, Eugene S. Smotkin, Thomas E. Mallouk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

141 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The recent development of inexpensive catalysts for the oxygen evolution reaction has suggested that efficient photoelectrochemical cells (PECs) might be constructed from terrestrially abundant materials. Because these catalysts operate in aqueous buffer solutions at neutral to slightly basic pH, it is important to consider whether electrolytic cells can have low series loss under these conditions. Water-splitting or fuel-forming PECs will likely require porous separators or electrolyte membranes to separate the cathode products from oxygen produced at the anode. For this reason we analyze the individual potential losses in electrolytic systems of buffer solutions and commercially available anion- and cation-exchange membranes. Potentiometric analysis and pH measurements were employed to measure the potential losses associated with solution resistance, membrane resistance, and pH gradient formation at the current density (25 mA cm-2) expected for efficient PECs. The membrane pH gradient is the most problematic source of loss in these systems, but monoprotic buffers can minimize the pH gradient by diffusion of the neutral acidic or basic form of the buffer across the membrane. These results suggest that water-splitting PECs can be viable with properly chosen membrane-buffer combinations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7582-7589
Number of pages8
JournalEnergy and Environmental Science
Volume5
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012

Fingerprint

Photoelectrochemical cells
electrolyte
Electrolytes
Buffers
polarization
Polarization
membrane
Membranes
Water
water
ion exchange
catalyst
Oxygen
Electrolytic cells
oxygen
Catalysts
Separators
Anions
loss
Cations

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Pollution

Cite this

Hernández-Pagán, E. A., Vargas-Barbosa, N. M., Wang, T., Zhao, Y., Smotkin, E. S., & Mallouk, T. E. (2012). Resistance and polarization losses in aqueous buffer-membrane electrolytes for water-splitting photoelectrochemical cells. Energy and Environmental Science, 5(6), 7582-7589. https://doi.org/10.1039/c2ee03422k
Hernández-Pagán, Emil A. ; Vargas-Barbosa, Nella M. ; Wang, Tsinghai ; Zhao, Yixin ; Smotkin, Eugene S. ; Mallouk, Thomas E. / Resistance and polarization losses in aqueous buffer-membrane electrolytes for water-splitting photoelectrochemical cells. In: Energy and Environmental Science. 2012 ; Vol. 5, No. 6. pp. 7582-7589.
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Hernández-Pagán, EA, Vargas-Barbosa, NM, Wang, T, Zhao, Y, Smotkin, ES & Mallouk, TE 2012, 'Resistance and polarization losses in aqueous buffer-membrane electrolytes for water-splitting photoelectrochemical cells', Energy and Environmental Science, vol. 5, no. 6, pp. 7582-7589. https://doi.org/10.1039/c2ee03422k

Resistance and polarization losses in aqueous buffer-membrane electrolytes for water-splitting photoelectrochemical cells. / Hernández-Pagán, Emil A.; Vargas-Barbosa, Nella M.; Wang, Tsinghai; Zhao, Yixin; Smotkin, Eugene S.; Mallouk, Thomas E.

In: Energy and Environmental Science, Vol. 5, No. 6, 01.01.2012, p. 7582-7589.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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