Fernando Saraiva Rocha da Silva
PhD student
Ir. at UCLouvain in 2020/ Ir. at USP in 2020
Contact - Personnal web page

Main project: Simulation and experimental validation of electrochemical hydrogen production via pulsed water electrolysis on 3D electrodes
Funding: UCL Assistant
Supervisor(s): Joris Proost

In the context of global warming, there is an increasing effort to decarbonize energy systems. With renewable sources such as windmills and solar panels increasing their share in the electric grid, energy storage is a must, since these sources are intrinsically intermittent. Among all the storage solutions, hydrogen production from water electrolysis has proven to be the best one for long-periods and high energy quantities. The principle is that the electricity is used to produce hydrogen and oxygen gases in electrolyzers and when needed, the produced hydrogen can be burned or used on fuel cells to recover electric energy. The main goal of the thesis is to intensify electrolytic hydrogen production by different methods, such as the use of 3-D electrodes, forced electrolytic flow, and pulsed power. Some questions are addressed such as: will the 3-D electrodes increase the performance in comparison with the conventional 2-D electrodes? Can the forced electrolytic flow remove all the gas bubbles trapped in the 3-D structure? To how extent a pulsed power can help the gas bubble removal and improve the performance? What is the best 3-D structure to intensify hydrogen production? To answer these questions, several approaches are proposed. They include electrochemical measurements like cyclic voltammetry, pulsed voltage and pulsed current experiments, and galvanostatic experiments. Additionally, hydrogen gas will be collected to estimate the production rate. All these experiments will be performed with varying 3-D structure, electrolyte temperature, and concentration. Some of the tested electrodes will be designed and produced at UCLouvain. Computational fluid dynamic simulation is also proposed as a way to better understand the electrolytic cell. As a first result, it was seen that current pulses presented a better result than voltage pulses. Furthermore, pulsed power could increase the hydrogen production rate during the time the voltage was on. Nevertheless, when considering the average production rate, including the period the voltage was off, pulsed power had the worst performance. It was observed that pulse frequency was inversely proportional to performance and that decreasing duty cycle could increase efficiency. Furthermore, it was observed that forced electrolytic flow was capable of enhancing the process performance, especially for electrodes with a high surface density (m2/m3).

IMMC main research direction(s):
Chemical engineering

electrochemical engineering
energy storage
hydrogen production
process intensification

Research group(s): IMAP


Recent publications

See complete list of publications

Journal Articles

1. Saraiva Rocha da Silva, Fernando; Delmelle, Renaud; Georgiadis, Christos; Proost, Joris. Effect of pore size and electrolyte flow rate on the bubble removal efficiency of 3D pure Ni foam electrodes during alkaline water electrolysis. In: Journal of Environmental Chemical Engineering, Vol. 10, p. 107648 (2022). doi:10.1016/j.jece.2022.107648.

2. Saraiva Rocha da Silva, Fernando; de Radiguès de Chennevières, Quentin; Thunis, Grégoire; Proost, Joris. Pulsed water electrolysis: A review. In: Electrochimica Acta, Vol. 377, p. 138052 (2021). doi:10.1016/j.electacta.2021.138052.

3. Saraiva Rocha da Silva, Fernando; Proost, Joris. Discriminating between the effect of pulse width and duty cycle on the hydrogen generation performance of 3-D electrodes during pulsed water electrolysis. In: International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, Vol. 46, no.57, p. 28925-28935 (2021). doi:10.1016/j.ijhydene.2020.11.232.