Elucidation of Fe-N-C Electrocatalyst Active Site Functionality via in-situ X-ray Absorption and Operando Determination of Oxygen Reduction Reaction Kinetics in a PEFC

Kenneth Neyerlin, Luigi Osmieri, Rajesh Ahluwalia, Xiaohua Wang, Hoon Chung, Xi Yin, A. Kropf, Jaehyung Park, David Cullen, Karren More, Piotr Zelenay, Deborah Myers

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Abstract

In the past decade the notable effort placed on improving intrinsic electrochemical kinetics of platinum group metal (PGM)-free electrocatalysts for the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) has led to a significant improvement in both performance and understanding of this class of electrocatalysts. However, a limited amount of this development and understanding has been undertaken using operando electrochemical diagnostics at the membrane electrode assembly (MEA) level. In this work, the operando ORR kinetics on an atomically dispersed iron-nitrogen-carbon ((AD)Fe-N-C) PGM-free electrocatalyst have been examined to extract the reaction order and the activation energy of the ORR. The experiments were carefully designed to ensure the stability/predictability of the electrocatalyst during the data collection process and thus validate the relevance of the values obtained for the aforementioned parameters. A kinetic model that considers a potential-dependent availability of active sites (θ) is proposed. Active site availability is shown to be a function of both the change in the oxidation state (nR) and the redox potential at which the metal center transitions from a higher oxidation state to a lower one The resulting model fitting parameters for nR and (0.71 and 0.788 V, respectively) obtained from the analysis of operando data correlate well with those from in situ X-ray absorption near edge structure measurements (nR = 0.57) and in situ cyclic voltammetry measurements (0.75 V < < 0.8 V) in the MEA environment. The resulting model provides an excellent fit of MEA performance across the range of pressures, temperatures, and potentials under which the data were collected.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number117929
Number of pages13
JournalApplied Catalysis B: Environmental
Volume257
DOIs
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5900-73102

Keywords

  • Activation energy
  • Fe-N-C catalyst
  • Modeling
  • Polymer electrolyte fuel cell
  • Reaction order

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