Improving the Activity and Stability of PdSn Catalyst for Oxygen Reduction by Heat Treatment
One of the most promising cathode systems are the Pd-based alloys, such as PdCo, PdCr, PdNi [1,2], PdFe  and PdP  that compete with platinum in terms of electrocatalytic activity.
A very important concern in the development of fuel cells is the electrochemical stability of the catalyst, which can affect the fuel cell lifetime. A few publications have described the ORR activity of PdSn alloys in acid media [5,6]. However, to the best of our knowledge, the effect of heat treatment on PdSn electrocatalyst activity and stability has not been yet investigated.
In this work, PdSn/C electrocatalysts for ORR have been synthesized by the sodium borohydride method with sensitizing (Sn2+/SnO2 or Sn4+) and activating pretreatment (Pd2+/Pd) of the carbon support Vulcan XC72. The electrocatalysts have been then heat treated at 300 ºC in a reducing atmosphere (3% hydrogen in nitrogen). The morphology, structure and composition of the catalysts as-prepared and subject to thermal treatment have been characterized by XRD, SEM/EDS and TEM. The activity of PdSn/C catalysts for ORR in acid media has been studied using a rotating disc electrode (RDE) and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS). Specific activity-time curves measured at a fixed potential have been used to study the long-term catalyst performance for more than 2 days. The PdSn/C catalysts prepared with heat treatment exhibited an enhanced activity and stability as compared to those synthesized without treatment.
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This work was supported by Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT) and FEDER (contracts PTDC/QUI-QUI/110855/2009, PEst-OE/QUI/UI0616/2014) and COST Action MP1202 "Rational design of hybrid organic-inorganic interfaces". R. Rego acknowledges FCT for grant SFRH/BSAB/1337/2013.