Graphene Fuel Cell Catalyst Claimed to Outperform Platinum Equivalent

06 Jun 2013

GrapheneA group of researchers have developed an inexpensive graphene-based fuel cell catalyst that is claimed to perform better than a commercial platinum equivalent in oxygen-reduction reactions as well as tolerating both carbon monoxide poisoning, a common issue for fuel cell stacks, and methanol crossover.

In initial testing the researchers (from South Korea’s Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology and the USA’s Case Western Reserve University and the University of North Texas), found that a cathode coated with their iodine-edged graphene catalyst generated 33% more current than with a commercial cathode coated with platinum. In terms of durability, electrodes coated with the iodine-edged graphene nanoplatelets maintained 85.6–87.4% of their initial current after 10,000 cycles compared to 62.5% for the platinum-coated electrode.

"We made metal-free catalysts using an affordable and scalable process," said Liming Dai, the Kent Hale Smith Professor of macromolecular science and engineering at Case Western Reserve and one of the report's authors. "The catalysts are more stable than platinum catalysts and tolerate carbon monoxide poisoning and methanol crossover."

Fuel Cell Today notes that the catalyst was not tested in a complete fuel cell system and tests were conducted in an alkaline environment. This is not directly comparable to the acidic environment found in platinum-containing fuel cells such as PEMFC and DMFC. Nonetheless, such materials research is important in the ongoing effort to reduce fuel cell costs and increase durability.

The team is now working on materials optimisation. Their paper, ‘Facile, scalable synthesis of edge-halogenated graphene nanoplatelets as efficient metal-free electrocatalysts for oxygen reduction reaction’, can be read on Scientific Reports.

 

Reference: The Engineer

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