Evaluating Cathode Catalysts in the Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cell

Detta är en avhandling från Stockholm : KTH

Sammanfattning: The polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) converts the chemical energy of hydrogen and oxygen (air) into usable electrical energy. At the cathode (the positive electrode), a considerable amount of platinum is generally required to catalyse the sluggish oxygen reduction reaction (ORR). This has implications regarding the cost in high-power applications, and for making a broad commercialisation of the PEMFC technology possible, it would be desirable to lower the amount of Pt used to catalyse the ORR.In this thesis a number of techniques are described that have been developed in order to investigate catalytic activity at the cathode of the PEMFC. These methodologies resemble traditional three-electrode research in liquid electrolytes, including cyclic voltammetry in inert gas, but with the advantage of performing the experiments in the true PEMFC environment.From the porous electrode studies it was seen that it is possible to reach mass activities close to 0.2 gPt/kW at potentials above 0.65 V at 60 ?C, but that the mass activities may become considerably lower when raising the temperature to 80 ?C and changing the measurement methodology regarding potential cycling limits and electrode manufacturing.The model electrode studies rendered some interesting results regarding the ORR at the Pt/Nafion interface. Using a novel measurement setup for measuring on catalysed planar glassy carbon disks, it was seen that humidity has a considerable effect on the ORR kinetics of Pt. The Tafel slopes become steeper and the activity decreases when the humidity level of the inlet gases decreases. Since no change in the the electrochemical area of the Pt/Nafion interface could be seen, these kinetic phenomena were ascribed to a lowered Pt oxide coverage at the lower humidity level, in combination with a lower proton activity.Using bi-layered nm-thick model electrodes deposited directly on Nafion membranes, the behaviour of TiO2 and other metal oxides in combination with Pt in the PEMFC environment was investigated. Kinetically, no intrinsic effect could be seen for the model electrodes when adding a metal oxide, but compared to porous electrodes, the surface (specific) activity of a 3 nm film of Pt deposited on Nafion seems to be higher than for a porous electrode using ?4 nm Pt grains deposited on a carbon support. Comparing the cyclic voltammograms in N2, this higher activity could be ascribed to less Pt oxide formation, possibly due to a particle size effect.For these bi-layered films it was also seen that TiO2 may operate as a proton-conducting electrolyte in the PEMFC.