Nano-structured hydrogen oxidation electrocatalysts for anion exchange membrane fuel cells

H.A. Miller, F. Vizza, M. Marelli, A. Zadick, L. Dubau, M. Chatenet, S. Geiger, S. Cherevko, H. Doan, R.K. Pavlicek, S. Mukerjee, D.R. Dekel
Italian National Research Council Rome,
Italy

Keywords: fuel cells, platinum free, palladium, alkaline membrane, ceria

Summary:

One of the biggest obstacles to the diffusion of fuel cells is their cost, a large part of which is due to platinum (Pt) electrocatalysts. Complete removal of Pt is a difficult if not impossible task for proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEM-FCs). The Anion Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell (AEM-FC) has long been proposed as a solution as non-Pt metals may be employed. Despite this, few examples of Pt free AEM-FCs have been demonstrated with modest power output. The main obstacle preventing the realization of a high power density Pt free AEM-FC is sluggish hydrogen oxidation (HOR) kinetics of the anode catalyst. Here we describe a Pt free AEM-FC that employs a mixed carbon-CeO2 supported palladium (Pd) anode catalyst that exhibits enhanced kinetics for the HOR. AEM-FC tests run on dry H2 and pure air show peak power densities of more than 500 mW cm-2. The unique structure of palladium deposited onto a mixed support of Vulcan XC-72 carbon and CeO2 consists of Pd metal preferable deposited on the ceria regions of the catalyst. Here we compare catalysts with three different Pd loadings and show that the 10 wt% Pd sample has optimized activity. Hydrogen pumping and fuel cell experiments based on this catalyst show higher activities as compared to a Pd/C sample without ceria. Metal dissolution tests and identical location transmission microscopy experiments show that the catalyst stability under harsh potential cycling experiments in alkaline medium is significantly improved as compared to Pd/C.