UConn-Technion Clean Energy Initiative

The UConn-Technion Clean Energy Initiative facilitates the exchange of faculty and students, between UConn and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, to present and collaborate on research. Joint investigations are generously supported by the Satell UConn-Technion Leadership Program for Global Energy Sustainability, the Maurice G. Gamze Endowment Fund (at the American Technion Society), Larry Pitts & Phyllis Meloff, the Eileen & Jerry Lieberman UConn/Israel Global Partnership Fund, and the Grand Technion Energy Program (GTEP). UConn and Technion are recognized leaders in energy engineering and education, and both are committed to advancing global adoption of clean and efficient energy technologies. UConn’s Center for Clean Energy Engineering (C2E2), together with Technion’s Grand Technion Energy Program, provide an excellent platform to advance sustainable energy research in such areas as fuel cell systems, molten salt technology, materials corrosion, concentrated solar power life enhancement, and large-scale stationary batteries. UConn faculty interested in learning more about upcoming requests for proposals, please contact: Ugur Pasaogullari, Center Director of C2E2 (ugur.pasaogullari@uconn.edu).

From UConn Today: UConn-Technion Collaboration Develops Model for Affordable Fuel Cell Catalysts
From the American Technion Society: Technion Partners with UConn on Clean Energy

Recent Projects:

Title: Highly stable and active PEM FC cathode catalyst with a protective nitride coating
PIs: Prof. Jasna Jankovic (UConn) and Prof. Yair Ein-Eli (Technion)
Period: July 1, 2018 - Ongoing
Total Amount Awarded: $60,000
Abstract: The project approach is to impel the stability of the common commercial [Pt/C] catalyst by plating the carbon support surface with a protective film leaving Pt catalytic centers available for contacting with reagents. The material of the protective film should be corrosion resistant in the FC environment, highly conductive and hydrophobic; the film should be applied so that Pt-catalyst centers maintain accessibility for reagents. Some transition metal nitrides satisfy the conditions being promising materials for such films. Our proposal tackles these problems and offers highly conductive, hydrophobic coatings without modification of [Pt/C] catalyst preparation techniques. We propose to use ALD, as a highly promising approach that can be applied on any already existing state-of-the-art Pt/C catalyst to deposit a carbon corrosion protective layer. Therefore we are proposing a new approach of ALD coating with NbN and ZrN, materials that will provide high electronic conductivity and layer hydrophobicity, without much altering the original Pt/C catalyst. We believe that the bi-lateral project between UCon and Technion will result in novel, improved properties of the catalyst layers and has a high potential for success.
Project Outcomes:

  1. Selective coating of Pt by OAm on model graphite electrodes was achieved. Consequent removal of OAm by heat treatment and by treatment in acetic acid was investigated, and the latter method was selected. In addition, selective coating of the graphite by TiN was achieved. The model electrodes were characterized electrochemically and microscopically.
  2. The methods developed for the model graphite electrode were applied to the actual Pt/carbon powder catalyst. Challenges with the OAm deposition and ALD were encountered, due to a high surface area of the catalysts. Also, degradation of the carbon support was a challenge in high-power ALD system in Israel. The ALD deposition optimization was continued at UConn and Dr. Necmi Biyikli and his student (ALD experts) were also included in the project.
  3. The method for OAm and TiN ALD deposition on the Pt/C catalyst were developed and optimization is in progress. Electrochemical and microscopy characterization was performed.


  1. O. Godoy, S. Ilhom, M. Kattan, P. Zarama, Y. Ein-Eli, N. Biyikli, J. Jankovic, Synthesis and Characterization of Platinum on Carbon Nanoparticles Selectively Coated with Titanium Nitride (TiN), Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cells & Electrolyzers 21 (PEFC&E 21) - Diagnostics/Characterization Methods, MEA Design/Model issue of 240th ECS Transactions, ECS Transactions, Volume 104, Number 8, (2021).

Conference Presentations Presented:

  1. Godoy, S. Ilhom, M. Kattan, P. Zarama, Y. Ein-Eli, N. Biyikli, J. Jankovic, Synthesis and Characterization of Platinum on Carbon Nanoparticles Selectively Coated with Titanium Nitride (TiN), 240th ECS Conference, Orlando (virtual), October 2021.
  2. O. Godoy, S. Ilhom, M. Kattan, N. Biyikli, Y. Ein-Eli, J. Jankovic, Synthesis and Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) Characterization of Platinum on Carbon Nanoparticles Selectively Coated with Titanium Nitride (TiN), World Fuel Cell Conference, Montreal (virtual), Aug 2021.
  3. Godoy, S. Ilhom, M. Kattan, N. Biyikli, Y. Ein-Eli, J. Jankovic, Synthesis And Characterization of Platinum on Carbon Nanoparticles Selectively Coated with Titanium Nitride (TiN), Fall MRS Meeting, Boston (virtual), Nov 29-Dec 2, 2021



Title: SOFC cathode poisoning from airborne impurities: Mechanism and mitigation
PIs: Prof. Prabhakar Singh (UConn) and Prof. Yoed Tsur (Technion)
Period: July 1, 2018 - Ongoing
Total Amount Awarded: $60,000
Abstract: The proposed UConn-Technion research program capitalizes on the combined strength and past working experience of the PIs and existing laboratory capabilities at Technion and UConn. The overall technical objective of the proposed collaborative research program is to mitigate SOFC cathode poisoning mechanisms originating from the presence of air borne intrinsic and extrinsic impurities entering the electrochemically active cell stack. It is also the objective of the research effort to identify, synthesize, test and validate multifunctional getters for the co-capture of air borne intrinsic and extrinsic impurities (Cr, S, B and Si) and demonstrate through transpiration and electrochemical tests, that the developed getters effectively reduce long term electrochemical performance degradation. The research team will utilize existing experimental facilities at both institutions to synthesize high surface area nano-fibrous and nano-particulate high surface area oxide composites and develop getter architectures for incorporation in the SOFC stack and balance of plant (BOP) sub-systems. It is envisioned that in-depth analysis of EIS data, synthesis of high surface area oxide nano-rods and particles as well as characterization of the getter by HRTEM will be performed at Technion. Electrochemical and transpiration tests, getter formulations and posttest characterization will be performed at UConn. The envisioned collaboration between the two institutions will strengthen the information exchange, dissemination of information, training of faculty and students.
As of January, 2022, a manuscript is under review.



Title: NIM-CEOX/C Catalyst Synthesis and Characterization
PIs: Prof. Radenka Maric (UConn) and Prof. Dario R. Dekel (Technion)
Period: July 1, 2018 - December 31, 2021
Total Amount Awarded: $75,000

Abstract: Anion exchange membrane fuel cells (AEMFCs) have received increasing attention as this technology has the potential to replace expensive platinum and platinum alloy materials currently used in fuel cell electrodes, significantly reducing the cost of fuel cell devices. Recently, significant progress has been made in improving material components for AEMFCs in particular cell hardware, membranes, ionomers and cathode catalysts for the oxygen reduction reaction. However, the sluggish anodic hydrogen oxidation reaction (HOR) kinetics of electrocatalysts under alkaline conditions have limited the development of affordable Pt-free catalysts and AEMFC technology is still awaiting new advanced anode catalytic materials to fulfill its potential. This goal represents one of the major two challenges in the today’s state-of the-art AEMFC technology. Only a few examples of Pt-free AEMFCs have been demonstrated until today, most of them with relatively low power output. Using a new bifunctional catalyst approach, consisting of a ceria-Pd interface, we have very recently showed a significant improvement in the HOR kinetics, reaching a record high Pt-free AEMFC performance of ca. 500 mW cm-2. This bifunctional catalyst approach promises to overcome the major HOR challenge of the AEMFC technology. However, little is known about bifunctional catalysts, and no satisfactory method has been defined that achieves the very highly active ceria-Pd catalyst that is required to overcome the cost challenges. We propose here to use a unique advanced technology that will allow us to study and optimize the ceria-Pd electrochemical interfacial properties. 1) Use reactive spray deposition technology (RSDT) to control atomic-level mixing during catalyst creation and use this control to design catalysts with an optimum number of identical active sites; 2) Manufacture catalysts and electrodes to maximize power output of Pt-free based AEMFCs.
Project Outcomes:

  1. The team achieved Hydrogen oxidation reaction (HOR) performance of Ni based catalyst superior to the state of the art model as shown in the published literature for anion exchange membrane fuel cell.

As of January, 2022, a paper on this work is currently in internal review.