One target of this work is the stabilization of the carbon support material by functionalization to prevent carbon corrosion under the operating fuel cell conditions. We modified the morphology, structure and chemical properties of the porous carbon materials by using different methods such as acid treatment or thermal treatment in a reactive gas atmosphere. On the other hand, we optimized the design of Pt-based alloy (Pt-Ni, Pt-Co) nanoparticles supported on these functionalized porous carbon support materials. The properties and behavior of these materials are monitored by using high resolution transmission electron microscopy (HR-TEM), X-ray diffraction (XRD), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX) and X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS). The electrochemical stability and durability of the catalysts were also investigated by applying various accelerated test protocols such as potential cycling between 0.5 - 1.0 (10.000 cycles), 0.5 - 1.5 (2000 cycles) and 1.0 - 1.5 V vs. RHE (2000 cycles).
We monitored the electrochemically active surface area (ECSA) of the Pt and Pt alloy nanoparticles supported on these functionalized carbon materials during the runs to correlate its loss to the number of cycles, scan rate and potential range. Based on these results we evaluate the relationship between the carbon modification, size and chemical composition of the bimetallic nanoparticles, electrocatalytic properties and durability.
Based on this study, we developed a model, describing the critical parameters to improve the interaction between the particles and the support material. This approach serves to enhance the catalytic properties and long-term durability of the ORR electrocatalysts for PEMFC applications.
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