Ana has been awarded a Royal Society Grant (RGS\R1\201283) to develop 3D Printed Electrodes for Energy Conversion and Storage Technologies! Below the abstract of her project.
Sustainable energy production at an acceptable cost is key for its widespread application. At present, noble metals and metal oxides are the most widely used for electrocatalysis, but they suffer from low selectivity, poor durability and scarcity. The search for new materials and structures that use non noble metals is of paramount importance. 3D printing has received increasing attention in recent years, due to its flexibility and ability to design electrodes, which can incorporate electrocatalytic functional materials. This method enabled excellent control and tuneability of geometries and sizes at the micrometre scales while maintaining the characteristic advantages of their components. Another advantage of 3D printing technologies has to do with the ability to produce single parts consisting of multiple materials, even with printed gradients, which leads to highly tailored materials. However, the application of 3D printed electrodes in electrocatalysis is relatively new, only gaining momentum in the last years. Here I propose to use 3D printing to explore new electrode composites consisting of nanostructured graphene / transition metal electrocatalytic species for application in energy storage and conversion technologies. This research will lead to the development of a variety of electroactive composites, with different geometries and microstructures, and high electrocatalytic performance for batteries, fuel cells and water electrolyser systems. This research has the potential to truly transform the field of electrode design and expand the use of 3D printing techniques for the processing of new electrocatalytic architectures.