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Title: Nanoscale Design of Pd‐Based Electrocatalysts for Oxygen Reduction Reaction Enhancement in Alkaline Media
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Publisher / Repository:
Wiley Blackwell (John Wiley & Sons)
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Small Structures
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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  1. Carbon nanocomposites based on transition-metal oxides have been attracting extensive attention as cost-effective catalysts towards the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR). However, the activity remains subpar as compared to state-of-the-art platinum catalysts. One way to enhance the ORR performance is to dope a second metal into the nanocomposite to manipulate the electronic structure and hence the interactions with key reaction intermediates. Herein, dual metal (Ru and Fe) and nitrogen codoped carbon (RuFe-NC) nanocomposites were synthesized by controlled pyrolysis of a Fe–Ru–Fe trinuclear complex along with zeolitic imidazolate framework-8. The obtained porous nanocomposites consisted of Ru-doped Fe 2 O 3 nanoparticles embedded within a carbon scaffold, and exhibited an ORR activity in alkaline media rivaling that of commercial Pt/C, which was also markedly better than those of the monometallic counterparts and nanocomposites prepared with a simple mixture of the individual monometallic compound precursors. Structural characterization suggests that the use of the trinuclear complex facilitated the atomic dispersion of ruthenium within the iron oxide nanoparticles and charge transfer between the metal centers led to a high ORR activity. Results from this study suggest that rational design of heteronuclear complexes may be a unique strategy in the structural engineering of carbon-metal nanocomposites for high-performance electrocatalysis. 
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  2. Abstract

    Alkaline direct alcohol fuel cells (ADAFCs) represent an attractive alternative to hydrogen fuel cells for the more convenient storage, transportation, and lower cost of alcohols (e.g., methanol and ethanol) when compared with compressed hydrogen. However, the anode alcohol oxidation reaction (AOR) is generally plagued with high overpotential and sluggish kinetics, and often requires noble metal‐based electrocatalysts to accelerate the reaction kinetics. To this end, the development of efficient AOR electrocatalysts with high mass activity (MA), high durability, high Faradaic efficiency (FE), and low overpotential is central for realizing practical ADAFCs. Here, in this minireview, a brief introduction of the fundamental challenges associated with AOR in alkaline electrolyte, the key performance metrics, and the evaluation protocols for benchmarking AOR electrocatalysts are presented, followed by a summary of the recent advances in the noble‐metal based AOR electrocatalysts (e.g., Pt, Pd, and Rh) with an emphasis on the design criteria for improving the specific activity and electrochemical surface area to ultimately deliver high MA while at the same time ensuring long term durability. The strategies to enhance FE and lower overpotential will also be discussed. Last, it is concluded with a brief perspective on the key challenges and future opportunities.

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  3. Abstract

    Proton‐exchange‐membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) are of considerable interest for direct chemical‐to‐electrical energy conversion and may represent an ultimate solution for mobile power supply. However, PEMFCs today are primarily limited by the sluggish kinetics of the cathodic oxygen reduction reaction (ORR), which requires a significant amount of Pt‐based catalyst with a substantial contribution to the overall cost. Hence, promoting the activity and stability of the needed catalyst and minimizing the amount of Pt loaded are central to reducing the cost of PEMFCs for commercial deployment. Considerable efforts have been devoted to improving the catalytic performance of Pt‐based ORR catalysts, including the development of various Pt nanostructures with tunable sizes and chemical compositions, controlled shapes with selectively displayed crystallographic surfaces, tailored surface strains, surface doping, geometry engineering, and interface engineering. Herein, a brief introduction of some fundamentals of fuel cells and ORR catalysts with performance metrics is provided, followed by a detailed description of a series of strategies for pushing the limit of high‐performance Pt‐based catalysts. A brief perspective and new insights on the remaining challenges and future directions of Pt‐based ORR catalysts for fuel cells are also presented.

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  4. Transition metal selenides have attracted intensive interest as cost-effective electrocatalysts for the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) and oxygen evolution reaction (OER) because of the continuous thrust in sustainable energy conversion. In this article a Mn-based bifunctional electrocatalyst, MnSe, has been identified which shows efficient OER and ORR activity in alkaline medium. The catalytic activity could be further enhanced by using multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) which increases the charge transfer and electronic conductivity of the catalyst composite. This MnSe@MWCNT catalyst composite exhibits a very low overpotential of 290 mV at 10 mA cm −2 , which outperforms state-of-the-art RuO 2 as well as other oxide based electrocatalysts. Furthermore, the composite's facile OER kinetics was evidenced by its small Tafel slope of 54.76 mV dec −1 and low charge transfer resistance, indicating quick transport of the reactant species at the electrode interface. The MnSe@MWCNT also exhibited efficient electrocatalytic activity for ORR with an E onset of 0.94 V, which is among the best reported to date for chalcogenide based ORR electrocatalysts. More importantly, this MnSe-based ORR electrocatalyst exhibits high degree of methanol tolerance, showing no degradation of catalyst performance in the presence of copious quantities of methanol, thereby out-performing the state-of-the-art Pt electrocatalyst. The catalyst composite also exhibited exceptional functional and compositional stability for OER and ORR after a prolonged period of continuous operation in alkaline medium. The surface Raman analysis after OER revealed the retention of manganese selenide surface with evidence of oxo coordination, confirming the formation of an (oxy)selenide as the active surface for OER. Such efficient bifunctional OER and ORR activity makes this MnSe based catalyst attractive for overall electrolysis in regenerative as well as direct methanol fuel cells. 
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