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Preparation and characterization of highly active nano pt/c electrocatalyst for proton exchange membrane fuel cell.

by Ying, Qiling

Abstract (Summary)

Catalysts play an essential role in nearly every chemical production process. Platinum supported on high surface area carbon substrates (Pt/C) is one of the promising candidates as an electrocatalyst in low temperature polymer electrolyte fuel cells. Developing the activity of the Pt/C catalyst with narrow Pt particle size distribution and good dispersion has been a main concern in current research.

In this study, the main objective was the development and characterization of inexpensive and effective nanophase Pt/C electrocatalysts. A set of modified Pt/C electrocatalysts with high electrochemical activity and low loading of noble metal was prepared by the impregnation-reduction method in this research. The four home-made catalysts synthesized by different treatments conditions were characterized by several techniques such as EDS, TEM, XRD, AAS, TGA, BET and CV.

Pt electrocatalysts supported on acid treatment Vulcan XC-72 electrocatalysts were produced successfully. The results showed that Pt particle sizes of Pt/C (PrOH)x catalysts between 2.45 and 2.81nm were obtained with homogeneous dispersion, which were more uniform than the commercial Pt/C (JM) catalyst. In the electrochemical activity tests, ORR was confirmed as a structure-sensitive reaction. The Pt/C (PrOH/pH2.5) showed promising results during chemically-active surface area investigation, which compared well with that of the commercial standard Johnson Matthey Pt/C catalyst. The active surface area of Pt/C (PrOH/pH2.5) at 17.98m2/g, was higher than that of the commercial catalyst (17.22 m2/g ) under the conditions applied. In a CV electrochemical activity test of Pt/C catalysts using a Fe2+/Fe3+ mediator system study, Pt/C (PrOH/pH2.5) (67mA/cm2) also showed promise as a catalyst as the current density is comparable to that of the commercial Pt/C (JM) (62mA/cm2).

A remarkable achievement was attained in this study: the electrocatalyst Pt supported on CNTs was synthesized effectively. This method resulted in the smallest Pt particle size 2.15nm. In the electrochemically-active surface area study, the Pt/CNT exhibited a significantly greater active surface area (27.03 m2/g) and higher current density (100 mA/cm2) in the Fe2+/Fe3+ electrochemical mediator system than the other home-made Pt/C catalysts, as well as being significantly higher than the commercial Pt/C (JM) catalysts. Pt/CNT catalyst produced the best electrochemical activities in both H2SO4 and K4[Fe(CN)6] electrolytes. As a result of the characteristics of Pt/CNT, it can be deduced that the Pt/CNT is the best electrocatalyst prepared in this study and has great potential for use in fuel cell applications.

Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:University of the Western Cape/Universiteit van Wes-Kaapland

School Location:South Africa

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:electrocatalysis fuel cells

ISBN:

Date of Publication:01/01/2006

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