Carbon supported nano-sized Pt-Pd and Pt-Co electrocatalysts for proton exchange membrane fuel cells
Nano-sized Pt-Pd/C and Pt-Co/C electrocatalysts have been synthesized and characterized by an alcohol-reduction process using ethylene glycol as the solvent and Vulcan XC-72R as the supporting material. While the Pt-Pd/C electrodes were compared with Pt/C (20 wt.% E-TEK) in terms of electrocatalytic activity towards oxidation of H2, CO and H2-CO mixtures, the Pt-Co/C electrodes were evaluated towards oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) and compared with Pt/C (20 wt.% E-TEK) and Pt-Co/C (20 wt.% E-TEK) and Pt/C (46 wt.% TKK) in a single cell. In addition, the Pt-Pd/C and Pt-Co/C electrocatalyst samples were characterized by XRD, XPS, TEM and electroanalytical methods. The TEM images of the carbon supported platinum alloy electrocatalysts show homogenous catalyst distribution with a particle size of about 3-4 nm. It was found that while the Pt-Pd/C electrocatalyst has superior CO tolerance compared to commercial catalyst, Pt-Co/C synthesized by polyol method has shown better activity and stability up to 60 °C compared to commercial catalysts. Single cell tests using the alloy catalysts coated on Nafion-212 membranes with H2 and O2 gases showed that the fuel cell performance in the activation and the ohmic regions are almost similar comparing conventional electrodes to Pt-Pd anode electrodes. However, conventional electrodes give a better performance in the ohmic region comparing to Pt-Co cathode. It is worth mentioning that these catalysts are less expensive compared to the commercial catalysts if only the platinum contents were considered.