Oliver Curnick

Email: OJC855@bham.ac.uk

Supervisors: Dr Paula Mendes & Dr Bruno G. Pollet


EPSRC Project - Novel Electrocatalysts for Hyrogen Fuel Cells


Oliver graduated from the University of Warwick in 2006 with a Masters in Physics, and took the opportunity to travel before beginning his PhD at the University of Birmingham in October 2008.

Oliver’s PhD is funded by EPSRC and focuses on the discovery and evaluation of novel electrocatalysts for the direct hydrogen Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell (PEMFC); a technology that is widely regarded as a promising alternative to the internal combustion engine for automotive applications, having the advantages of zero emissions and excellent energy conversion efficiency.

Despite the adoption of fuel cell programmes by many major automakers, thus far the commercialisation of PEMFCs has been hindered partly – but significantly - by the enduring requirement for expensive, platinum-based catalysts in the electrodes. Not only are they costly, these catalysts are also prone to degradation over time, resulting in a gradual loss of cell performance.

The development of novel, stable, highly active catalysts incorporating dramatically less platinum will contribute significantly to the reduction in cost, improvement in performance and increase in lifespan of PEMFC systems. In turn, these developments are crucial in order for PEMFCs to gain commercial viability towards the mass automotive market.