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The crucial significance of the temperature and potential window on the stability of platinum alloy nanoparticles as oxygen reduction reaction electrocatalysts

Due to increase in climate change and its negative effects on the environment and human health, the transition from conventional energy sources to new, renewable sources is necessary. Hydrogen and fuel cells, which use it as a fuel, will play a key role in this. The weakest link in fuel cells is the weak kinetics of the oxygen reduction reaction. As a result, their operation is unimaginable without the use of a suitable electrocatalyst. For this purpose, the extremely expensive and scarce platinum, which is distributed in the most modern catalysts on a carbon support in the form of nanoparticles, proved to be the best. In the search for a more active, but at the same time cheaper catalyst, platinum alloys, in which part of platinum is replaced by less noble and at the same time less expensive metal, have proven to be the most promising solution. While their high activity is already generally proven, their stability has not yet been adequately investigated.

So far, most stability tests are still performed under conditions that do not simulate the actual operating conditions of fuel cells, thus limiting the understanding of electrocatalyst degradation. Researchers from the Laboratory for Electrocatalysis (Department of Materials Chemistry, D10) showed how the temperature and width of the potential window affect the stability that is degradation of ordered Pt-Co/C, Pt-Cu/C and Pt-Ni/C electrocatalysts. They proved that both the higher temperature as well as wider potential window have a key influence on the dissolution mechanisms of both platinum and consequently less noble metal. The research resulted in a publication in the prestigious journal ACS Catalysis (impact factor 13,084), and the work was also presented at three scientific conferences.

The researchers are grateful to the ARRS and the ERC for funding this research.


Contacts for more information: matija.gatalo(at), nejc.hodnik(at) 

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