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A methodology for investigating new nonprecious metal catalysts for PEM fuel cells

TitleA methodology for investigating new nonprecious metal catalysts for PEM fuel cells
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsSusac, D, Sode, A, Zhu, L, Wong, PC, Teo, M, Bizzotto, D, Mitchell, KAR, Parsons, RR, Campbell, SA
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Volume110
Pagination10762-10770
Date PublishedJun
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number1520-6106
KeywordsCARBON-BLACK, CHLORIDE, ELECTROCATALYTIC ACTIVITY, ELECTROLYTE, ELECTROOXIDATION, FE-BASED CATALYSTS, NITROGEN THIN-FILMS, OXIDATION, OXYGEN REDUCTION CATALYSTS, STABILITY
Abstract

This paper reports an approach to investigate metal-chalcogen materials as catalysts for the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) in proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells. The methodology is illustrated with reference to Co-Se thin films prepared by magnetron sputtering onto a glassy-carbon substrate. Scanning Auger microscopy (SAM), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX), and X-ray diffraction (XRD) have been used, in parallel with electrochemical activity and stability measurements, to assess how the electrochemical performance relates to chemical composition. It is shown that Co-Se thin films with varying Se are active for oxygen reduction, although the open circuit potential (OCP) is lower than for Pt. A kinetically controlled process is observed in the potential range 0.5-0.7 V ( vs reversible hydrogen electrode) for the thin-film catalysts studied. An initial exposure of the thin-film samples to an acid environment served as a pretreatment, which modified surface composition prior to activity measurements with the rotating disk electrode (RDE) method. Based on the SAM characterization before and after electrochemical tests, all surfaces demonstrating activity are dominated by chalcogen. XRD shows that the thin films have nanocrystalline character that is based on a Co1-xSe phase. Parallel studies on Co-Se powder supported on XC72R carbon show comparable OCP, Tafel region, and structural phase as for the thin-film model catalysts. A comparison for ORR activity has also been made between this Co-Se powder and a commercial Pt catalyst.

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