Thermochemical Materials Research

NREL's thermochemical materials research focuses on solar thermo-chemical hydrogen (STCH) and solid oxide electrolysis cell materials.

This research is conducted in collaboration with Professor Ryan O'Hayre of the Colorado School of Mines.

Diagrams showing porous positrode, dense electrolyte, and porous negatrode of thermochemical materials

Solar Thermo-Chemical Hydrogen Materials

This research focuses on discovery of new redox materials and optimization of the high-potential STCH candidates by high-throughput experimental methods, for chemical generation of hydrogen at elevated temperature. Such studies not only provide an efficient way to uncover new STCH materials, but also help to better understand fundamental links between chemical composition, crystal structure, and STCH performance.

For more information, see the following publications:

Combinatorial Screening of Temperature Dependent Crystal Structure in Ba-Sr-Mn-Ce Perovskite Oxides with ABO3 Stoichiometry, Journal of Materials Chemistry A (2021)

Double-site Ce Substitution of (Ba,Sr) MnO3 Perovskites for Solar Thermochemical Hydrogen Production, ACS Energy Letters (2021).

Images of STCH material composition

Solid Oxide Electrolysis Cell Materials

We develop materials for intermediate temperature proton-conducting solid oxide electrolysis cell that can electrochemically generate hydrogen at elevated temperatures. The high-throughput screening methods involve combinatorial thin-film deposition and spatially resolved characterization of the resulting materials. Studies also include evaluation of electrochemical performance and grain boundary diffusion.

For more information, see the following publications:

Triple Ionic–Electronic Conducting Oxides for Next-Generation Electrochemical Devices, Nature Materials (2021)

Instrument for Spatially Resolved, Temperature-Dependent Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy of Thin Films under Locally Controlled Atmosphere, Review of Scientific Instruments (2021).      

Image of a lab instrument


NREL's work on thermochemical materials research for sustainable hydrogen production was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office.

As part of this research, NREL has worked since 2017 with HydroGEN, a consortium of six Department of Energy national laboratories.