Defective Nitrogen-Doped Graphene Foam: A Non-Precious Electrocatalyst for the Oxygen Reduction Reaction in Alkaline Medium

Tuesday, 7 October 2014: 10:00
Sunrise, 2nd Floor, Star Ballroom 8 (Moon Palace Resort)
J. Liu (Faculty of Engineering, Kyushu University), K. Sasaki (Next-Generation Fuel Cell Research Center (NEXT-FC), Kyushu University), and S. M. Lyth (Kyushu University)
Recently, graphene has received attention due to its large surface area, conductivity, and strength, and wide electrochemical potential window. We have developed a method to synthesize graphene foam (GF) with large surface area (>1500 m2/g), at extremely low cost [3].  Due to the unique large surface area, and high conductivity, this material is ideal for electrochemistry. For example we obtained high mass activity for oxygen reduction on platinum-decorated GF in acid medium. [4]

               Nitrogen-doped graphene has received attention as a cathode catalyst in AAEMFCs. [5] We have already developed nitrogen-doped graphene foam (GFN) for use as a cathode catalyst in PEMFCs [6]. Here we apply these GFNcatalysts in alkaline media, and measure durability under potential cycling, compared with 20 wt% Pt-decorated carbon black (Pt/CB).

               GFN was synthesized by combustion of nitrogen-containing sodium alkoxide, followed by washing, 1000oC heat treatment in N2 and H2, and graphitization at 1400oC. This is a 3D carbon with micron-scale pores encapsulated by thin defective graphene walls with a thickness of around 2 nm, with a surface area of > 700 m2/g and a nitrogen content of around 0.5 at.% (Fig. 1). The material was confirmed to be Fe-free by ICP analysis.

                Working electrodes were prepared according to Fuel Cell Commercialization Conference of Japan (FCCJ) guidelines [7]. GFN was dispersed in deionized water, ethanol and 5 wt.% Nafion solution, in a volume ratio of 3:3:1. 8 μl ink was deposited onto a glassy carbon-disk platinum-ring electrode (0.196 cm2, Hokuto Denko Corp; 580 μgcatcm-2 GFN / 17.3 μgPtcm-2Pt/CB). We used an automatic polarization system; rotating ring-disk electrode apparatus; and a three-electrode electrochemical cell (Hokuto Denko Corp.; HZ-5000, HR-500, and HX-107). There are few rigorous durability studies published in alkaline media, therefore we propose a modified load potential cycling test, between -0.4 V and 0 V.

               Fig. 2 (a) shows LSVs of GFN, with comparable activity to Pt/CB. The onset potential is -0.02 V for GFN compared with 0.05 V for Pt/CB. Figure 2 (b) shows mass activity retention over 60,000 potential cycles. Pt/CB retains just 20% if it’s initial activity, however GFN retains an astonishing 64% of its initial activity over the same number of cycles. This clearly demonstrates that GFNelectrocatalysts have sufficient activity and durability to be used in commercial alkaline fuel cells.

               The International Institute for Carbon-Neutral Energy Research (WPI-I2CNER) is supported by the World Premier International Research Center Initiative (WPI), MEXT, Japan.

Fig.1 (a) SEM image and (b) XPS N1s peak of GFN. (c) Linear sweep voltammograms, and (d) retention of mass activity in GFN and Pt/CB.

1. W. Yang, T. P. Fellinger, M. Antonietti, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 133, 206 (2011).

2. T. C. Nagaiah, S. Kundu, M. Bron, M. Muhler, W. Schuhmann, Electrochemistry Communications, 12(3), 338 (2010).

3. SM Lyth, H Shao, J Liu, K Sasaki, E Akiba, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy 39, 376 (2014).

4. J Liu, K Sasaki, SM Lyth, ECS Transactions 58 (1), 1751 (2013).5. M. Vikkisk, I. Kruusenberg, U. Joost, E. Shulga, I. Kink, K. Tammeveski, Applied Catalysis B: Environmental, 147, 369 (2014).

6. J. Liu, D. Takeshi, D. Orejon, K. Sasaki, S. M. Lyth, Journal of the Electrochemical Society, 161(4), F544, (2014).

7. Fuel Cell Commercialization Conference of Japan (FCCJ), Proposals of the development targets, research and development challenges and evaluation methods concerning PEFCs, http://www.fccj.jp/.