Highly efficient cathode catalyst layer based on nitrogen-doped carbon nanotubes for the alkaline direct methanol fuel cell

Petri Kanninen, Maryam Borghei, Olli Sorsa, Elina Pohjalainen, Esko I. Kauppinen, Virginia Ruiz, Tanja Kallio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The performance of a direct methanol alkaline anion-exchange membrane (Fumatech FAA3) fuel cell with Pt-free nitrogen-doped few-walled carbon nanotubes (N-FWCNT) as the cathode catalyst is compared with a commercial supported Pt catalyst. The ionomer content of the N-FWCNT cathode catalyst layer is therefore optimized and it is shown to be 40wt% of FAA3. Scanning electron microscopy images of the catalyst layer show that the ionomer forms aggregates with N-FWCNTs probably due to their charged nature and that the catalyst layer structure is remarkably open even with high ionomer contents facilitating the mass transfer of reactants and products to the active sites. With oxygen as the oxidant, the maximum power density obtained with our Pt-free N-FWCNTs (0.78mWcm-2) is slightly higher than with the Pt catalyst (0.72mWcm-2). However, when more practical air is used as the oxidant, the N-FWCNTs (0.73mWcm-2) show clearly superior performance compared to the Pt catalyst (0.18mWcm-2). The lower performance with the Pt catalyst is attributed to the denser electrode layer structure resulting in higher mass transport resistance and to the presence of methanol in the cathode, which poisons the Pt but not the N-FWCNTs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341-349
Number of pages9
JournalApplied Catalysis B: Environmental
Volume156-157
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2014
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • Alkaline membrane electrolyte
  • Carbon nanotube
  • Direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC)
  • Nitrogen-doping
  • Oxygen reduction

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