Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science in Engineering


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Muralidhar Ghantasala

Second Advisor

Dr. Bade Shrestha

Third Advisor

Dr. Ramakrishna Guda


Fuel cells, catalyst development, material characterization, carbon materials, non- platinum group metal catalysts

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Fuel Cells convert the chemical energy of a fuel and an oxidizing agent into electricity through a pair of redox reactions. Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cells convert (efficiency-60%) hydrogen and air to power the electric motors with zero emissions, facilitating the development of environmentally friendly and sustainable automobile technologies. One of the major obstacles for larger commercial viability of Fuel Cells for automobile applications is their cost-effectiveness. Currently, fuel cells use platinum as a catalyst material, which is prohibitively expensive for commercial automobile applications. The development of non-Platinum Group Metal (non-PGM) catalyst materials with similar electrochemical performance to that of Platinum is essential for adopting fuel cells in automobile technologies in a big way. Hence, this research focused on the synthesis and characterization of three different non-PGM catalyst materials based on graphene and graphene oxide with nitrogen and Zeolite Imidazole Frameworks (ZIF) and an additional transition metal (Fe) loading. Various characterization techniques were performed to analyze the chemical, morphological, and electrochemical properties of each of these synthesized materials. The synthesized catalyst materials are N-GR-ZIF, N-RGO-ZIF, and N-RGO-Fe-ZIF with varying nitrogen doping. N-RGO-Fe-ZIF exhibited electrochemical characteristics that are quite comparable to that of Pt-based catalysts. The details of the synthesis process and characterization of the synthesized materials are discussed in this dissertation.