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Single step additive manufacturing (3D printing) of electrocatalytic anodes and cathodes for efficient water splitting

Hughes, Jack P and dos Santos, Pãmyla L and Down, Michael P and Foster, Christopher W and Bonacin, Juliano A and Keefe, Edmund M and Rowley-Neale, Samuel J and Banks, Craig E (2019) Single step additive manufacturing (3D printing) of electrocatalytic anodes and cathodes for efficient water splitting. Sustainable Energy & Fuels.

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Abstract

We enhance the current capability of additive manufacturing (AM)/(3D printing) to produce electronic devices by presenting a facile methodology for the production of electroconductive/electrocatalytic AM polylactic acid (PLA) filaments containing electrocatalytic materials; 2D-MoSe2 (M), electro-conductive carbon (C) and 20% Pt on carbon (Pt/C). The AM printed structures/electrodes (AMEs) produced using these filaments display bespoke electrochemical signals, in this case, efficient catalysis towards the major reactions that occur within a water electrolyser, namely the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) on the cathode and the oxygen evolution reaction (OER) on the anode without the need for any postproduction treatments. Various percentage mass incorporations, of the additives, into the PLA filaments were explored, with a 25% mass incorporation representing an ideal compromise between electroactivity and printability. Utilizing the optimized M10%–C15%-AME and Pt/C25%-AME as the cathode and anode, respectively, whilst a commercially available alkaline battery applied a potential of 1.5 V, water-splitting was achieved with obvious effervescence occurring at each electrode. This AM technique could mitigate the need for complex fabrication procedures, allowing researchers, industry and any interested individuals to rapidly go from ‘desktop designs’ to workable electrochemical prototype devices.

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