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Ionomer distribution control in porous carbon-supported catalyst layers for high-power and low Pt-loaded proton exchange membrane fuel cells

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Nong,  Hong Nhan
Research Department Schlögl, Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion, Max Planck Society;

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Strasser,  Peter
Physical Chemistry, Fritz Haber Institute, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Ott, S., Orfanidi, A., Schmies, H., Anke, B., Nong, H. N., Hübner, J., et al. (2020). Ionomer distribution control in porous carbon-supported catalyst layers for high-power and low Pt-loaded proton exchange membrane fuel cells. Nature Materials, 19(1), 77-85. doi:10.1038/s41563-019-0487-0.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-D32F-7
Abstract
The reduction of Pt content in the cathode for proton exchange membrane fuel cells is highly desirable to lower their costs. However, lowering the Pt loading of the cathodic electrode leads to high voltage losses. These voltage losses are known to originate from the mass transport resistance of O-2 through the platinum-ionomer interface, the location of the Pt particle with respect to the carbon support and the supports' structures. In this study, we present a new Pt catalyst/support design that substantially reduces local oxygen-related mass transport resistance. The use of chemically modified carbon supports with tailored porosity enabled controlled deposition of Pt nanoparticles on the outer and inner surface of the support particles. This resulted in an unprecedented uniform coverage of the ionomer over the high surface-area carbon supports, especially under dry operating conditions. Consequently, the present catalyst design exhibits previously unachieved fuel cell power densities in addition to high stability under voltage cycling. Thanks to the Coulombic interaction between the ionomer and N groups on the carbon support, homogeneous ionomer distribution and reproducibility during ink manufacturing process is ensured.