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4th Edition of

Chemistry World Conference

June 17-19, 2024 | Paris, France

Chemistry 2024

Shawn Gouws

Speaker at Chemistry World Conference 2024 - Shawn Gouws
Nelson Mandela University, South Africa
Title : Characterization of Ir-based catalysts for PEM electrolyser


Large quantities of industrial hydrogen are produced from fossil fuels, which leads to a large carbon footprint that slowly destroys our planet. Therefore, a need arises to reduce the carbon footprint in numerous industrial processes such as methanation, methanol, and ammonia. One possible route my group is investigating is using proton exchange membrane water electrolysers to produce green hydrogen for these industrial processes. We investigate proton exchange membranes (PEM) because of the abundant platinum group metals (PGM) mined in South Africa. Although PEM has several advantages, such as high current densities, it pairs well with other renewable energies, such as solar or wind, low gas permeability and faster hydrogen production with minimum environmental waste. A disadvantage, however, is the capex expense of utilising PGMs such as iridium and platinum—as well as acid corrosion components.

Our research shows for the preliminary results for IrM (M=Ru, Ti, and Au) bimetallic mixtures that similar robustness could be obtained for iridium only as the oxygen evolution reaction catalysts. This paper will discuss the preliminary results through material characterisation XRD, XRF and TEM analysis, cyclic voltammetry, linear voltammetry and chronopotentiometry.

Current research involves manufacturing the membrane electrode assemblies and testing these in PEM water electrolysers for durability and robustness. To do this, a small test rig will be built and commissioned with solar PV cells to produce green hydrogen from renewable energy resources.

Keywords: PEMWE, water electrolysis, OER

Audience Take-Away:

  • Bimetal complexes or metal mixtures with Ir could reduce capital costs.
  • Green hydrogen is needed to reduce the carbon footprint of industrial processes.
  • Electrochemistry is key to analyzing the electrocatalyst's characterisation of this catalyst.
  • More research is needed to overcome the demand for producing green hydrogen.


Dr Shawn Gouws studied Chemistry at the Port Elizabeth Technikon (now Nelson Mandela University), Gqeberha, South Africa and graduated from DTech in 1999. He joined LEORR, Grenoble, France, in 2000 to complete a one-year post-doctoral fellowship under Dr Sylvie Chardon-Noblat. He then joined the late Prof Ben Zeelie's group at InnoVenton, Nelson Mandela University, researching process chemistry and electrocatalysts. He has published 15 articles in SCI journals, filled four patent applications, and written one book chapter. His research interest is electrocatalysis for PEM water electrolysers to produce green hydrogen.