Study of catalysts with high stability for proton exchange membrane fuel cells

Fan Yang, Purdue University


The innovation and investigation of catalysts in proton exchange membrane fuel cells are included in this thesis. In the first part of this work, stability of the catalyst support of PEMFC catalyst is investigated. Nanoscale platinum particles were loaded on two different kinds of carbon supports, nano graphene sheets and functionalized carbon black/graphene hybrid were developed by the liquid phase reaction. The crystal structure of two kinds of catalysts was characterized by X-ray diffractometer (XRD). The morphology and particle size were characterized by scanning electron microscope (SEM) and transmission electron microscope (TEM). Pt loading was measured by thermal gravimetric analysis (TGA). The Brunauer, Emmett and Teller (BET) method was applied to test the surface area of the catalysts. The electrochemical surface area (ECSA) and mass activity during oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) process for two kinds of catalyst were tested by cyclic voltammetry method under different conditions. The stability of the catalysts were tested by accelerated durability test (ADT). The results show that although the mass activity of Pt/graphene is much lower, the stability of it is much better than that of the commercial catalyst. After adding functionalized carbon black (FCB) as spacer, the stability of the catalyst is preserved and at the meantime, the mass activity becomes higher than 20% Pt/XC72 catalyst. The lower mass activity of both catalysts are due to the limitation of the electrolyte diffusion into the carbon support because of the aggregation nature of graphene nano-sheets. After introducing functional carbon black as spacer, the mass activity and ECSA increased dramatically which proved that FCB can be applied to prevent the restacking of graphene and hence solved the diffusion problem. In the meantime, the durability was still keeping the same as Pt/graphene catalyst. In the second part of the work, the restacking problem was solved by introducing FCB as spacers between functionalized graphene nanosheets. The same measurement was applied to test the electrochemical performance of Pt/FCB/FG catalyst. The new catalyst showed a higher mass activity compared to Pt/graphene catalyst which meant the restacking problem was partially solved. The durability of the Pt/FCB/FG catalyst was still excellent.




Xie, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Electrical engineering|Energy

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