Thermal Spray and Multiphase Flow Laboratories
Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering

Formation of Electrocatalytically Active Electrode Coatings for Hydrogen Evolution


Maniya Aghasibeig, PhD candidate

Milad Mousavi, M.A.Sc student

Dr. Fadhel Ben Ettouil

Dr. Ali Dolatabadi


Dr. Rolf Wuthrich, Concordia University

Dr. Christian Moreau, CNRC Boucherville



During the past century with the fast development of modern industries, increase of the environmental pollution and high costs of the fossil fuels has raised the demand of acquiring alternative resources of energy. Extensive efforts have been carried out to obtain new renewable energy resources at lower prices compared to the conventional fuels, to reduce the damaging effects of climate change by mitigating the greenhouse emissions. Hydrogen is considered to be one of the most promising clean energy carriers to replace fossil derivative fuels [1, 2].

Although several methods have been developed to produce high purity hydrogen, alkaline water electrolysis is currently the most practical and efficient (>70%) technique [3]. Advanced electrolysers with reduced overpotentials need to be developed to produce hydrogen in an efficient and cost-effective way with minimum energy consumption.

Using highly active electro-catalyst materials is one way to increase the efficiency of the electrolysis process. Platinum has the highest electrocatalytic activity for the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) among all metals. However, high costs of platinum have limited its use as cathode material for water electrolysis. Instead, nickel seems to be a viable candidate due to its relatively high electrocatalytic activity, increased corrosion resistance and enhanced mechanical and chemical stability in alkaline electrolytes [4].

Increasing the electro-active surface area, for instance by forming porous electrode coatings, is another method to increase the efficiency of the electrolysis process. Among different coating techniques, plasma spraying has demonstrated its capability for fabrication of active porous electrode coatings in a cost effective process, taking advantage of the surface morphology produced by the spraying process [3, 5].

In recent years, there have been major interests towards producing plasma sprayed coatings by utilizing nanostructured powder particles; where nano-sizd particles provide larger surface areas and superior performances. Suspension plasma spraying (SPS), based on using liquid feed stock, is a viable method for plasma spraying of nanometric sized particles [6].

An objective of this project is to investigate the possibility of utilization of SPS process for producing porous electrochemically active electrode coatings using precursor nickel-based nano-particles. The development of highly active electrocatalysts based on nickel would promise considerable decrease in the costs of hydrogen production by electrolysis. Avoiding utilization of platinum along with reduced power consumption in hydrogen evolution would be the two main factors for cost effectiveness of these new catalysts.


Figure 1 : SEM Surface images of the coatings formed by: (a) APS and (b) SPS processes.



[1] Henne R. (2007) Solid Oxide Fuel Cells: A Challenge for Plasma Deposition Processes, Journal of Thermal Spray Technology, Vol 16, iss 3, pp.381-403.

[2] Hu W. (2000), Electrocatalytic Properties of New Electrocatalysts for Hydrogen Evolution in Alkaline Water Electrolysis, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, Vol 25, pp. 111-118.

[3] Birry L., & Lasia A. (2004) Studies of the Hydrogen Evolution Reaction on Raney Nickel – Molybdenum Electrodes, Journal of Applied Electrochemistry, pp. 735-749.

[4] Conway B. E., Jerkiewicz G. (2000), Relation of Energies and Coverages of Under-potential and Over-potential Deposited H at Pt and Other Metals to the “Volcano Curve” for Cathodic H2 Evolution Kinetics, Electrochimica Acta,Vol 45, pp. 4075- 4083.

[5] Henne R., Schnurnber W., Weber W. (1984) Low Pressure Plasma Spraying-Properties and Potential for Manufacturing Improved Electrolysers, Journal of Thin Solid Films, Vol 119, pp. 141-152.


[6] Marchand O., Saoutieff E., Bertrand P., Planche M. P., Tingaud O., Bertrand G. (2009), Suspension Plasma Spraying to Manufacture Electrodes for Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) and Solid Oxide Electrolysis Cell (SOEC), ECS Transactions, Vol 25, iss 2, pp. 585-594.

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