Mesoporous Textured Fe-N-C Electrocatalysts as Highly Efficient Cathodes for Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells

Srinu Akula, Marek Mooste, Barr Zulevi, Sam McKinney, Arvo Kikas, Helle-Mai Piirsoo, Mihkel Rahn, Aile Tamm, Vambola Kisand, Alexey Serov, Erin Creel, David Cullen, Kenneth Neyerlin, Hao Wang, Madeleine Odgaard, Tatyana Reshetenko, Kaido Tammeveski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus Citations

Abstract

A new platinum group metal (PGM)-free proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) cathode catalyst materials, synthesized using the VariPore™ method by Pajarito Powder, LLC, are characterized for their structure and activity. The physico-chemical analysis of the iron-nitrogen-carbon (Fe-N-C) electrocatalysts show mesoporous carbon material effectively doped with iron and nitrogen. The materials have an average pore size of 7–8 nm and high specific surface area. The Fe-N-C catalysts exhibit good oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) activity in 0.5 M H2SO4 electrolyte with high half-wave potential and sustainable electrochemical stability over 10,000 repeated potential cycles with insignificant losses in their activities. As cathode catalysts in a PEMFC, the Fe-N-C materials deliver remarkably good fuel cell performance at low overpotential approaching that of the commercial Pt catalyst. The high ORR electrocatalytic activity of these Fe-N-C catalysts is credited to the synergy between nitrogen-moieties, specifically pyrrolic-N, pyridinic-N, and graphitic-N, and iron in addition to the high mesoporosity that facilitate an effective reaction path in boosting the electrocatalytic activity and stability.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numberArticle No. 230819
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Power Sources
Volume520
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier B.V.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5900-81696

Keywords

  • Electrocatalysis
  • Fe-N-C catalyst
  • Mesoporous carbon
  • Nitrogen doping
  • Oxygen reduction reaction
  • Proton-exchange membrane fuel cell

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