On the influence of Pt particle size on the PEMFC cathode performance
Journal article, 2007
Colloidal suspensions of almost spherical and crystalline Pt nanoparticles between 1.6 and 2.6 nm in diameter and with narrow size distribution were synthesized using the phase transfer method (PTM) with alkylamines, C n NH 2 , as stabilizing agents. Batches of such homogenous Pt-C n NH 2 (n = 8, 12) nanocrystals were deposited onto Vulcan XC-72 carbon powder, and the activity for the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) of this series of Pt/C materials was evaluated under PEMFC conditions. The aim was to elucidate whether this type of stabilized Pt nanoparticles were as active for the ORR as a corresponding commercial Pt/C material, and if any difference in mass activity could be observed between catalysts with different Pt particle size. In the PEMFC experiments, i.e. voltammetry in oxygen and nitrogen, it was found that, after an initial electrode activation, the ORR activity of the catalysts prepared from the alkylamine-stabilized Pt nanoparticles deposited on carbon was as high as that of the employed commercial reference catalyst. In fact, all samples in the Pt/C series showed high and very similar ORR activity normalized to Pt-loading, without significant dependence on the initial Pt particle size. However, pre- and post-electrochemical characterization of the Pt/C material series with TEM showed that structural changes of the Pt nanoparticles occurred during electrochemical evaluation. In all samples studied the mean Pt particle size increased during the electrochemical evaluation resulting in decreased differences between the samples explaining the observed similar ORR performance of the different materials. These results emphasize the necessity of post-operation characterization of fuel cell catalysts when discussing electrocatalytic activity. In addition, employing complex preparation efforts for lowering the Pt particle size below 3 nm may have limited practical value unless the particles are stabilized from electrochemical sintering. © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Phase transfer method