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Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Chemical Engineering (MS)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Chemical Engineering

First Advisor

Wenzhen Li


Target at creating a sustainable world, significant amounts of researches are emerging, which lead to the swift developments of green chemistry and clean energy related technologies. Catalysts as an important part in human society are also revitalizing with this sustainable main stream. However, traditional metal catalysts, such as platinum, gold and palladium have the limitation of their inadequate reservation on earth and price. Non-precious metal catalysts, such as silver and copper, have either competitive performance compared to precious metals, or facilitate unique reaction path in certain catalytic applications. The non-precious metals are promising alternative catalysts in green chemistry and clean energy areas.

In my master thesis research, I successfully prepared nano-structured carbon supported silver and copper catalysts. Modified nanocapsule method, aqueous phase NaBH4 reduction method and ethylene glycol (EG) method were developed. Physical structures of the synthesized catalysts were characterized with X-ray diffraction (XRD) and transmission electron spectroscopy (TEM). Electrocatalytic properties of these non-precious catalysts on fuel cell cathode application (silver) and carbon dioxide reduction application (copper) were also considered. The main findings are as follows:

1) Ag nanoparticles with small particle size can be synthesized using nanocapsule method.

2) Ag can be successfully used as cathode catalyst for anion exchanged membrane-direct glycerol fuel cell (AEM-DGFC) with high output power density.

3) Ag nanoparticles with smaller size will lead to higher power density and lower resistance in AEMDGFC test.

4) Pre-electrochemical test showed Cu nanoparticles had activity as catalyst in CO2 reduction reaction. Three different methods were investigated in order to make Cu nanoparticles. Preliminary results showed that Cu nanoparticles with small particle size and uniform particle distribution can be synthesized using modified nanocapsule method.