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This content will become publicly available on March 29, 2023

Title: A completely precious metal–free alkaline fuel cell with enhanced performance using a carbon-coated nickel anode
Alkaline fuel cells enable the use of earth-abundant elements to replace Pt but are hindered by the sluggish kinetics of the hydrogen oxidation reaction (HOR) in alkaline media. Precious metal–free HOR electrocatalysts need to overcome two major challenges: their low intrinsic activity from too strong a hydrogen-binding energy and poor durability due to rapid passivation from metal oxide formation. Here, we designed a Ni-based electrocatalyst with a 2-nm nitrogen-doped carbon shell (Ni@CN x ) that serves as a protection layer and significantly enhances HOR kinetics. A Ni@CN x anode, paired with a Co−Mn spinel cathode, exhibited a record peak power density of over 200 mW/cm 2 in a completely precious metal–free alkaline membrane fuel cell. Ni@CN x exhibited superior durability when compared to a Ni nanoparticle catalyst due to the enhanced oxidation resistance provided by the CN x layer. Density functional theory calculations suggest that graphitic carbon layers on the surface of the Ni nanoparticles lower the H binding energy to Ni, bringing it closer to the previously predicted value for optimal HOR activity, and single Ni atoms anchored to pyridinic or pyrrolic N defects of graphene can serve as the HOR active sites. The strategy described here marks a more » milestone in electrocatalyst design for low-cost hydrogen fuel cells and other energy technologies with completely precious metal–free electrocatalysts. « less
Authors:
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Award ID(s):
1719875
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10325575
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Volume:
119
Issue:
13
ISSN:
0027-8424
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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