Graphene and platinum are brought together for fuel cells

Sara Coles is a guest web-writer for RSC Advances. She currently works for Johnson Matthey in Royston, UK.

Graphene is certainly a hot topic in research right now. A quick look down this very blog shows that it featured in no fewer than seven of the top ten accessed articles in RSC Advances during 2012 (including all of the top three)!

This versatile material appears as oxides, composites, quantum dots, nanomaterials and foams and it has been investigated for uses in photocatalysis, energy, environmental applications and more.

Now researchers in India and China have been investigating graphene supported platinum catalysts for fuel cells.Platinum nanostructures on graphene catalysing oxygen reduction

Sreekuttan M. Unni and colleagues report the first synthesis of a 3D self-assembled single crystalline platinum nanostructure directly on a graphene surface without structural directing agents, by using a slow reduction method. In their paper, they show superior electrocatalytic activity towards the oxygen reduction reaction, a crucial reaction for hydrogen-fuelled polymer electrolyte fuel cells. They show that their material also has less vulnerability to strong hydroxyl adsorption and a higher limiting current density than other graphene supported platinum or commercial platinum-on-carbon catalysts.

Meanwhile Jian Zhao and colleagues have published about their supercritical fluid route for preparing graphene-supported platinum-ruthenium nanoparticles in an effective, simple, low temperature and environmentally benign way. They used supercritical CO2 to uniformly distribute ultrafine PtRu nanoparticles with an average size of 2.87 nm on the surfaces of functionalized graphene sheets. They found considerably improved catalytic activity and stability for methanol oxidation from their supported nanoparticles because of the uniform distribution. Their supercritical approach may have promise for development of direct methanol fuel cells.

Find out more about this research in RSC Advances:

3-Dimensionally self-assembled single crystalline platinum nanostructures on few-layer graphene as an efficient oxygen reduction electrocatalyst, Sreekuttan M. Unni, Vijayamohanan K. Pillai and Sreekumar Kurungot, RSC Adv., 2013, 3, 6913-6921

Methanol electrocatalytic oxidation on highly dispersed platinum–ruthenium/graphene catalysts prepared in supercritical carbon dioxide–methanol solution, Jian Zhao, Lin Zhang, Hao Xue, Zhaobo Wang and Haiqing Hu, RSC Adv., 2012, 2, 9651–9659

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