Energy is becoming a big issue in the present world due to the depletion of current fossil fuels and also due to environmental problems such as global warming and rising pollution levels. Hence, highly efficient and renewable energy materials are required to produce clean electricity. The utilization of different energy sources such as solar energy and wind energy is hampered by their fluctuation in time and non-uniform geographical distribution which are still under nascent stage. In this regard, hydrogen-based renewable energy is very promising due to higher chemical energy per mass of hydrogen (142 MJ kg−1) as compared to liquid hydrocarbons (47 MJ kg−1), zero emission, and its large abundancy on earth. Therefore, electrochemical conversion of hydrogen to electric energy using fuel cells would be the key technology in future. In hydrogen fuel cells, the development of highly efficient electrocatalysts mainly for sluggish cathodic oxygen reduction reaction, with inexpensive and easily available materials, is a major issue. Recent investigations suggest that chemically modified graphene support materials such as nitrogen-doped graphene can generate strong, beneficial catalyst support interactions which considerably enhance the catalyst activity and stability in fuel cells. This chapter describes the fundamental aspects of electrochemical conversion of hydrogen to electric energy using fuel cells. The chapter further explains the role of nitrogen-doped graphene nanomaterials and their hybrids with transition metal and their alloy nanoparticles in fuel cell catalysis.
Part of the book: Recent Advances in Graphene Research