an alternative to Platinum for activation of the oxygen reduction reaction

· TGI - Catalysis
Authors

Pt and its alloy are known as the most efficient catalysts for activation of the oxygen reduction reaction. However, due to their high costs and scarce reserves their application is limited. Therefore hunt for  better catalysts which outperform with low cost and simple production processes will always be there.

The Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), South Korea, research team led by Prof. Jaephil Cho, dean of the Interdisciplinary School of Green Energy of UNIST, demonstrated a new strategy to rationally design inexpensive and durable electrochemical oxygen reduction catalysts for metal-air batteries and fuel cells.

It is an electrocatalyst using iron phthalocyanine with an axial ligand anchored on single-walled carbon nanotubes. It demonstrates a higher electrocatalytic activity for oxygen reduction than the state-of-the-art Pt/C catalysts as well as an exceptional durability during cycling in an alkaline media.

{Electrocatalysts for oxygen reduction are critical components that may dramatically enhance the performance of fuel cells and metal-air batteries, which are perceived to be the power for future electric vehicles.}

The catalyst was developed using pyridine-functionalized carbon nanotubes (CNTs) to anchor FePc molecules and provide the axial ligand for the iron centre. The resulting material, bio-inspired FePc-Py-CNTs catalyst has shown outstanding durability and electrocatalytic activity for ORR in an alkaline media, offering better performance than a commercial Pt/C catalyst. Compared to other unpyrilysed metal macrocycles catalysts, this bio inspired FePc-Py-CNTs catalyst has achieved a much longer cycle life , reaching more than 1,000 cycles in a durability test. The CNTs provide an easy pathway for fast electron transfer from the current collector to the ORR active sites.

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“FePc-Py-CNTs catalyst is a technologically promising candidate for practical applications in metal-air batteries and alkaline fuel cells,” said Prof. Cho. “The origin of the enhanced performance for this bio-inspired catalysts in aromatic macrocycle, provides important insight into rational design of metal macrocycles catalysts for other applications such as solar harvesting and catalysts for other redox reactions.”

Read more: UNIST

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