This webinar introduces niobium as an important element in the development of new technologies to support the growing hydrogen economy. The agenda features international experts from across the supply chain including academia, catalyst developers and fuel cell manufacturers.

The keynote presentation “Ultrahigh-current-density niobium disulfide catalysts for hydrogen evolution” is given by Manish Chhowolla, Goldsmiths’ Professor of Materials Science at Cambridge University. Professor Chhowolla and his co-authors are winners of the 2020 Charles Hatchett Award. Presented annually, this Award is sponsored by CBMM and is presented in recognition of published work on the science and technology of niobium.

The proof-of-concept study presented in the paper examines the electrocatalytic performance of 2D niobium disulphide, with additional niobium doping, in the Hydrogen Evolution Reaction. The results are exceptional, showing the contribution of niobium in enhancing the electrochemical performance of the catalyst. The material is clearly a viable replacement for the platinum and iridium currently used in industrial electrolysers.

In addition, the webinar reviews other applications of niobium in the development of new technologies for hydrogen production and is moderated by Silke Frank, CEO of Mission Hydrogen.

The Role of Niobium in Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Production Technologies

Robson S. Monteiro, PhD. Senior Market Development Specialist, CBMM


With the advent of hydrogen as a fully decarbonized source of energy, there is a continuous demand to better performance materials to efficient and affordable promotion of its green production and widespread utilization in power generation, industrial processes and human mobility. The development of niobium-containing materials is of increasing interest to allow the design of more economical, durable and highly effective technology. An introductory summary of niobium properties and their applications as electroactive catalytic and support materials on PEM and alkaline hydrogen production and conversion devices will be given in this presentation.


The Charles Hacthett Award 2020 Lecture

Ultrahigh Current Density Niobium Disulfide Catalysts for Hydrogen Evolution 

Manish Chhowalla, Goldsmiths’ Professor of Materials Science, University of Cambridge


Two-dimensional metallic transition metal dichalcogenides (2D TMDs) have been studied as potentially inexpensive and earth abundant electrocatalysts for the hydrogen revolution reaction (HER). However, despite substantial progress the overall current density of 2D TMD catalysts remains orders of magnitude lower (~ 10 – 100 mA-cm-2) than industrial Pt electrolyzers (> 1,000 mA-cm-2). We show that niobium disulfide catalyst is capable of evolving hydrogen at current densities of > 5,000 mA-cm-2. We demonstrate a proof of concept NbS2 electrolyzer cathode capable of generating current densities of 1000 mA-cm-2.


Highly Durable and Active Cathode Catalysts for Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cells Using Nb-containing Oxide Supports 

Professor Katsuyoshi Kakinuma, Fuel Cell Nanomaterials Center, University of Yamanashi


Toward the widespread use of polymer electrolyte fuel cells in electrically powered mobile applications (vehicles, trains, ships, etc.), improvements in the durability and activity of the cathode catalysts are required. The present Pt catalyst loaded on carbon black is not able to completely withstand corrosion at high potentials. Pt catalysts deposited on Nb-doped SnO2 supports are quite promising candidates, with high activity and durability, which have reached the target levels for industrial development. The performance and design strategies of these promising Nb-doped supports and catalysts will be presented.


The Use of Niobium in Real-world Catalyst Applications for Fuel Cells and Electrolysers

Barr Zulevi, PhD. President and CTO Pajarito Powder


Increased performance and reduced catalyst costs are key needs for the growth of the Hydricity (Hydrogen + Electricity) market. Material requirements to achieve the costs targets are quite severe and today only Platinum and Iridium are known to provide the necessary catalytic performance and stability. However, both are expensive and rare. Previously, Nb-addition to Platinum was shown to enhance and therefore reduce the amount of platinum needed. Pajarito Powder, with support from CBMM also recently demonstrated that Niobium Oxides are suitable for both reducing the amount of Iridium needed for electrolyzers and further improving platinum-based catalysts using Nb-doped catalyst supports.


Fuel Cells for Zero Emission Heavy Duty Applications and Related Next
Generation Catalyst Material Requirements

Shanna Knights, Director, Technology Collaborations, Ballard Power Systems


Ballard Power Systems is a world leader in fuel cell stack and system development for motive and heavy-duty applications. Fuel cells for heavy duty applications promise high performance, long range, heavy payloads, and high utilization of the asset. Recent studies suggest that within the next 10 years, the total cost of ownership of fuel cell vehicles will become more favourable than both battery electric vehicles and internal combustion engine commercial vehicles. This is driven, in part, by a forecasted ≈70% decrease in the cost of fuel cell systems. While this achievement will be partially driven by product volume increases and related economies of scale, further improvements of fuel cell technology will be achieved through next generation materials and design improvements. The fuel cell catalyst incorporated in the electrodes provides the critical function to convert fuel into power. Active development on advanced catalyst materials and designs has been providing rapid advances in reducing cost, increasing power density, and improving durability in next generation fuel cell designs. This talk provides an update on current fuel cell industry status, with a focus on heavy duty motive applications, and how these applications will benefit from next generation catalyst materials.

About the Charles Hatchett Award


Introduced over 40 years ago, The Charles Hatchett Award is sponsored by CBMM | Niobium and recognises the best published research on the science and technology of niobium. The annual award is selected by a panel of international experts and is ratified by the UK’s Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3). The Award brings together technical experts from around the world and is important to CBMM | Niobium in identifying new applications and markets. To learn more about the Charles Hatchett Award, visit