Continuous hydrogen generation system for PEM fuel cell vehicles using catalytic decomposition of hydrous hydrazine

Interdisciplinary Areas: Power, Energy, and the Environment

Project Description

Hydrous hydrazine is a promising hydrogen carrier for proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell vehicles owing to its high hydrogen content (8.0 wt%), low cost (~$3/kg), moderate reaction temperature (20-80°C), and stable liquid state at ambient temperature, which allows it to be handled similar to conventional fuels such as gasoline and diesel. For its practical use, a catalyst with high activity and selectivity towards hydrogen generation from hydrous hydrazine decomposition is required. Our recent work demonstrated that solution combustion synthesis is an effective method to prepare catalysts for this purpose [1,2]. In the proposed work, based on the above catalysts, we plan to develop a practical system to continuously supply hydrogen to a fuel cell. The reactor operating conditions will be optimized to maximize hydrogen production. We plan to build on our recent work demonstrating the performance of cobalt based oxides generated from solution combustion synthesized cobalt oxide nanofoam as catalysts for the hydrolysis of sodium borohydride [3,4]. The magnetic properties of cobalt oxides allow flexibility in substrate machining and materials for hydrogen generation systems. Successful implementation of the proposed project, including reactor modeling, will permit us to evaluate its practicability and can be game changing for the field.

Start Date

June 1, 2019

Postdoc Qualifications

Strong publication record, with several first-author publications in high impact journals. Strong experimental skills in catalytic reaction engineering, including catalyst characterization. Some experience with reaction or reactor modeling preferred. Good communication skills and ability to work well in a group. 


Arvind Varma, R. Games Slayter Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering; Email:;

Timothée L. Pourpoint, Associate Professor, School of Aeronautics and Astronautics; Email:;


1. W. Kang and A. Varma, Appl. Catal. B, 220, 409-416 (2018)

2. W. Kang, D. O. Ozgur and A. Varma, ACS Appl. Nano Mater., 1, 675-685 (2018).
3. L.J. Groven, T.L. Pfeil, T.L. Pourpoint, Int. J. Hyd. Energy, 38(15), DOI: 10.1016/j.ijhydene.2013.03.060. (2013)
4. T.L. Pfeil, T.L. Pourpoint, L.J. Groven, Int. J. Hyd. Energy, 39(5), DOI: 10.1016/j.ijhydene.2013.11.104. (2014)