To realize the benefits of a hydrogen economy, hydrogen must be produced cleanly, efficiently and affordably from renewable resources and, preferentially, close to the end-users. The goal is a sustainable cycle of hydrogen production and use: in the first stage of the cycle, hydrogen is produced from renewable resources and then used to feed a fuel cell. This cycle produces no pollution and no greenhouse gases. In this context, the development of electrolyzers producing high-purity hydrogen with a high efficiency and low cost is of great importance. Electrode materials play a fundamental role in influencing electrolyzer performances; consequently, in recent years considerable efforts have been made to obtain highly efficient and inexpensive catalyst materials. To reach both goals, we have developed electrodes based on Pd-Co alloys to be potentially used in the PEMEL electrolyzer. In fact, the Pd-Co alloy is a valid alternative to Pt for hydrogen evolution. The alloys were electrodeposited using two different types of support: carbon paper, to fabricate a porous structure, and anodic alumina membrane, to obtain regular arrays of nanowires. The goal was to obtain electrodes with very large active surface areas and a small amount of material. The research demonstrates that the electrochemical method is an ideal technique to obtain materials with good performances for the hydrogen evolution reaction. The Pd-Co alloy composition can be controlled by adjusting electrodeposition parameters (bath composition, current density and deposition time). The main results concerning the fabrication process and the characterization are presented and the performance in acid conditions is discussed.
Keywords: Pd–Co alloys; acidic media; electrolyzers; green hydrogen; nanowires; template electrosynthesis.