Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Electrical Engineering

Major Professor

Stefanakos, Elias K.


solid acid electrolytes, superprotonic conductivity, impedance measurements, differential scanning calorimetry, X-ray diffraction, infrared spectroscopy


Electrolytic cells convert chemical energy directly into electrical energy cleanly and efficiently. An integral component of a fuel cell and an electrolytic cell is the electrolyte, a material that conducts ions. Liquid electrolytes can be aqueous as in the phosphoric acid and alkaline fuel cells, or molten, as in the molten carbonate fuel cells. A solid electrolyte is preferable because it allows sturdier, more efficient and corrosion resistant systems to be built. The main objective of this work is to develop a solid electrolyte for hydrogen production by electrolysis of hydrogen sulfide. Barium Hydrogen Phosphate, Barium Dihydrogen Phosphate, Cesium Hydrogen Carbonate, and Ammonium Iodide received brief attention but Cesium Hydrogen Sulfate was the primary candidate considered.

Initial investigation has verified that Cesium Hydrogen Sulfate undergoes an impressive first-order phase transition at approximately 140°C at which the proton conductivity increases by almost four orders of magnitude. An electrochemical cell was designed and developed by Erik Todd for the production of hydrogen. Hydrogen sulfide can electrolyzed into hydrogen and sulfur in an electrochemical cell. Sulfur is in a low viscosity molten state at a temperature of 150°C. A cell with cesium hydrogen sulfate electrolyte canoperate at this temperature where liquid sulfur and gaseous hydrogen can move out of the cell as they are formed. Consequently, the electrolyte must possess a high conductivity at this temperature to facilitate the migration of hydrogen ions to the negative electrode through the electrolyte. Cesium Hydrogen Sulfate is known to act as an insulator at room temperature and a protonic conductor at 140°C.

Hence it comes as an obvious choice as an electrolyte in a hydrogen sulfide electrochemical cell. The structural and chemical properties of Cesium Hydrogen Sulfate were investigated. • The CsHSO₄ electrolyte was prepared by the reaction of cesium carbonate and cesium sulfate with sulfuric acid respectively. • A punch, die and base were designed and fabricated to 0.5" and 2.0" diameter pellets for that purpose. • X-ray diffraction was performed on the 0.5" diameter pellets to identify and characterize the polycrystalline phases of the solid acid electrolyte. • Differential Scanning Calorimetry was performed so as to ascertain the phase transition temperature. • The temperature at which the phase transition occurs was further confirmed by impedance measurements. A test setup was built in order to perform impedance measurements. An experiment to measure the impedance of a 0.5" diameter pellet of silver iodide was performed in order to test the validity of the setup.

• An infrared analysis was performed on the prepared sample CsHSO₄ in order to identify the bond environment of the electrolyte. • Differential scanning calorimetry was performed with Barium Hydrogen Phosphate, Barium Dihydrogen Phosphate, Cesium Hydrogen Carbonate and Ammonium Iodide to identify their phase transition temperatures. • A successful electrolysis of steam experiment was carried out using the CsHSO₄ electrolyte to evaluate its performance. • Finally, the CsHSO₄ electrolyte was tested in the hydrogen sulfide electrochemical cell for the production of hydrogen and sulfur.