skip to main content
OSTI.GOV title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: Synthesis and Characterization of Mixed-Conducting Corrosion Resistant Oxide Supports

Abstract

An extensive search and evaluation of electrochemically stable catalyst supports (including metal oxides like RuO2-SiO2, RuO2-TiO2, and ITO was perfomed during the 4 years of the project. The suports were also catalyzed by deposition of Pt and tested for its performance and electrochemical stability in RDE and fuel cell experiments. For testing the electrochemical stability and fuel cell performance of the catalysts and supports, we have employed the protocols in use at the Department of Energy and Nissan Technological Center North America (NTCNA). The use of such procedures allows a precise and reproducible estimation of the performance and stability of the materials and permits comparisons among laboratories and DOE funded projects. RuO2-SiO2 catalyst supports showed no loss in surface area during start-stop stability tests that were performed by cycling the electrode potential between 0 V to 1.8 V for 1000 cycles. Catalyzed support (40% Pt/RuO2-SiO2; 1:1 mole ratio) were tested in a PEFC, resulting in a current density of 750 mA/cm2 at 0.6 Volts, and a maximum power density of 570 mW/cm2. Measurements were conducted at 80 ºC with 75% relative humidity of the inlet gases (H2/O2); Pt loadings were 0.4 mg/cm2 at the cathode and 0.2 mg/cm2 at themore » anode. Start-stop stability tests for support and catalyzed support performed in RDE and PEFC set-ups have confirmed RuO2-TiO2 support stability. The beginning of life performance was exactly equal to end of life performance (in an MEA that has been subjected to severe start-stop cycling for 10,000 start/stop cycles between 1 V to 1.5 V). This result was in sharp contrast to baseline Pt/C catalyst that showed significant performance deterioration after accelerated stability tests. The Pt/TRO showed minimal loss in performance upon exposure to start-stop cycles. The loss in cell voltage at 1 A/cm2 at 100% RH was almost 700 mV for Pt/C whereas it was only ca. 15 mV for Pt/TRO. 40% RH data (of inlet gases) revealed a similar trend in terms of stability – exceptional stability for Pt/TRO as opposed to very poor stability for Pt/HSAC. These observations were attributed to the much higher stability of the TRO support compared to Carbon. The carbon dioxide concentration in the cathode exit stream during the accelerated degradation test with Pt/TRO (start-stop protocol) was extremely low (between 3 to 10 ppm of CO2). In contrast, the CO2 emission levels from a conventional Pt/C catalyst were found to be approx. 200 ppm. This observation was a clear indicator that the main source of carbon being oxidized to carbon dioxide in an MEA was the carbon catalyst support, and not the gas diffusion layer or the graphite flow fields. Indium tin oxide (ITO) was also evaluated as a catalyst support for PEFCs. Pt/ITO was very stable under start-up/shutdown accelerated degradation protocol (RDE tests in perchloric acid). The ECSA change was less than 4% over 10,000 cycles. The load cycling accelerated protocol (from 0.6 to 0.95 V vs. RHE) resulted in a loss of approximately 34% of the initial ECSA after 10,000 cycles. However, fuel cell testing resulted in a very low performing catalyst. XPS spectroscopy was employed to investigate the changes in the catalysts occuring during fuel cell operation. It was observed a shift of In 3d5/2 and In 3d3/2 peaks towards higher binding energies. This can be explained by the formation of hydroxides or oxy-hydroxides in the surface of the catalyst. O1s spectrum for Pt/ITO catalyst after being operated in the fuel cell, also confirmed the formation of significant amounts of surface hydroxides (12 to 16%). The presence of surface hydroxides in the catalyst increased the electrode resistivity affecting fuel cell performance. NTCNA performed a detailed analysis of transport phenomena (reactants and products to/from the Pt active sites) in both commercial catalyst and Pt/RTO (in order to have a better understanding at the basic level). The proton resistance (Rionomer) in Pt/C and Pt/RTO cathode catalyst layers were 150 and 12 mΩ-cm2, respectively. Pt/RTO catalyst layer has about an order or magnitude lower proton transfer resistance than Pt/C catalyst layer. Since the ionomer/support ratio that was used in formulating the ink for both catalysts was the same (0.9), it is expected that the volumetric coverage of ionomer of both catalysts will be significantly different due to the disparity in the surface areas (Pt/C had ~ 800 m2/g, while Pt/RTO had ~ 50 m2/g). The differences in the ionomer volumetric coverage and the ionomer film thickness may explain the significantly higher proton conductivity in the Pt/RTO catalyst layer when compared to Pt/HSAC. It is therefore very important to optimize the ionomer loadings when synthesizing new catalyst supports (and never rely on values for carbon-based commercial catalysts). Finally, NTCNA has elaborated a cost model for non-carbon support materials considering their durability benefits. Material costs for production of Pt/ RuO2-TiO2 electrodes were compared to Pt/C. RuO2-TiO2 support was more expensive than carbon but the total material cost was still dominated by platinum cost. Though ruthenium is considered a precious metal, its cost is far less than platinum. It should also be noted that ruthenium only makes up 38% of the mass of the support, while the rest is inexpensive TiO2. After considering the durability advantages of Pt/RTO, cost model showed that even with almost double the Pt loading (0.35 vs 0.18 mgPt/cm2), Pt/RTO ($22.7/kWnet) is only slightly more expensive than Pt/C ($21.9/kWnet).« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1]
  1. Washington Univ., St. Louis, MO (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Illinois Inst. of Technology, Chicago, IL (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Fuel Cell Technologies Office (EE-3F)
OSTI Identifier:
1326167
Report Number(s):
FINAL REPORT: DE-EE0000461
DOE Contract Number:  
EE0000461
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
08 HYDROGEN; 36 MATERIALS SCIENCE; Non-carbon catalyst supports; PEFCs; Metal oxides; Load-cycling stability protocol; start/stop stability protocol; Ruthenium-titanium oxide; Ruthenium-silicon dioxide; Indium tin oxide

Citation Formats

Ramani, Vijay K. Synthesis and Characterization of Mixed-Conducting Corrosion Resistant Oxide Supports. United States: N. p., 2015. Web. doi:10.2172/1326167.
Ramani, Vijay K. Synthesis and Characterization of Mixed-Conducting Corrosion Resistant Oxide Supports. United States. doi:10.2172/1326167.
Ramani, Vijay K. Sat . "Synthesis and Characterization of Mixed-Conducting Corrosion Resistant Oxide Supports". United States. doi:10.2172/1326167. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1326167.
@article{osti_1326167,
title = {Synthesis and Characterization of Mixed-Conducting Corrosion Resistant Oxide Supports},
author = {Ramani, Vijay K.},
abstractNote = {An extensive search and evaluation of electrochemically stable catalyst supports (including metal oxides like RuO2-SiO2, RuO2-TiO2, and ITO was perfomed during the 4 years of the project. The suports were also catalyzed by deposition of Pt and tested for its performance and electrochemical stability in RDE and fuel cell experiments. For testing the electrochemical stability and fuel cell performance of the catalysts and supports, we have employed the protocols in use at the Department of Energy and Nissan Technological Center North America (NTCNA). The use of such procedures allows a precise and reproducible estimation of the performance and stability of the materials and permits comparisons among laboratories and DOE funded projects. RuO2-SiO2 catalyst supports showed no loss in surface area during start-stop stability tests that were performed by cycling the electrode potential between 0 V to 1.8 V for 1000 cycles. Catalyzed support (40% Pt/RuO2-SiO2; 1:1 mole ratio) were tested in a PEFC, resulting in a current density of 750 mA/cm2 at 0.6 Volts, and a maximum power density of 570 mW/cm2. Measurements were conducted at 80 ºC with 75% relative humidity of the inlet gases (H2/O2); Pt loadings were 0.4 mg/cm2 at the cathode and 0.2 mg/cm2 at the anode. Start-stop stability tests for support and catalyzed support performed in RDE and PEFC set-ups have confirmed RuO2-TiO2 support stability. The beginning of life performance was exactly equal to end of life performance (in an MEA that has been subjected to severe start-stop cycling for 10,000 start/stop cycles between 1 V to 1.5 V). This result was in sharp contrast to baseline Pt/C catalyst that showed significant performance deterioration after accelerated stability tests. The Pt/TRO showed minimal loss in performance upon exposure to start-stop cycles. The loss in cell voltage at 1 A/cm2 at 100% RH was almost 700 mV for Pt/C whereas it was only ca. 15 mV for Pt/TRO. 40% RH data (of inlet gases) revealed a similar trend in terms of stability – exceptional stability for Pt/TRO as opposed to very poor stability for Pt/HSAC. These observations were attributed to the much higher stability of the TRO support compared to Carbon. The carbon dioxide concentration in the cathode exit stream during the accelerated degradation test with Pt/TRO (start-stop protocol) was extremely low (between 3 to 10 ppm of CO2). In contrast, the CO2 emission levels from a conventional Pt/C catalyst were found to be approx. 200 ppm. This observation was a clear indicator that the main source of carbon being oxidized to carbon dioxide in an MEA was the carbon catalyst support, and not the gas diffusion layer or the graphite flow fields. Indium tin oxide (ITO) was also evaluated as a catalyst support for PEFCs. Pt/ITO was very stable under start-up/shutdown accelerated degradation protocol (RDE tests in perchloric acid). The ECSA change was less than 4% over 10,000 cycles. The load cycling accelerated protocol (from 0.6 to 0.95 V vs. RHE) resulted in a loss of approximately 34% of the initial ECSA after 10,000 cycles. However, fuel cell testing resulted in a very low performing catalyst. XPS spectroscopy was employed to investigate the changes in the catalysts occuring during fuel cell operation. It was observed a shift of In 3d5/2 and In 3d3/2 peaks towards higher binding energies. This can be explained by the formation of hydroxides or oxy-hydroxides in the surface of the catalyst. O1s spectrum for Pt/ITO catalyst after being operated in the fuel cell, also confirmed the formation of significant amounts of surface hydroxides (12 to 16%). The presence of surface hydroxides in the catalyst increased the electrode resistivity affecting fuel cell performance. NTCNA performed a detailed analysis of transport phenomena (reactants and products to/from the Pt active sites) in both commercial catalyst and Pt/RTO (in order to have a better understanding at the basic level). The proton resistance (Rionomer) in Pt/C and Pt/RTO cathode catalyst layers were 150 and 12 mΩ-cm2, respectively. Pt/RTO catalyst layer has about an order or magnitude lower proton transfer resistance than Pt/C catalyst layer. Since the ionomer/support ratio that was used in formulating the ink for both catalysts was the same (0.9), it is expected that the volumetric coverage of ionomer of both catalysts will be significantly different due to the disparity in the surface areas (Pt/C had ~ 800 m2/g, while Pt/RTO had ~ 50 m2/g). The differences in the ionomer volumetric coverage and the ionomer film thickness may explain the significantly higher proton conductivity in the Pt/RTO catalyst layer when compared to Pt/HSAC. It is therefore very important to optimize the ionomer loadings when synthesizing new catalyst supports (and never rely on values for carbon-based commercial catalysts). Finally, NTCNA has elaborated a cost model for non-carbon support materials considering their durability benefits. Material costs for production of Pt/ RuO2-TiO2 electrodes were compared to Pt/C. RuO2-TiO2 support was more expensive than carbon but the total material cost was still dominated by platinum cost. Though ruthenium is considered a precious metal, its cost is far less than platinum. It should also be noted that ruthenium only makes up 38% of the mass of the support, while the rest is inexpensive TiO2. After considering the durability advantages of Pt/RTO, cost model showed that even with almost double the Pt loading (0.35 vs 0.18 mgPt/cm2), Pt/RTO ($22.7/kWnet) is only slightly more expensive than Pt/C ($21.9/kWnet).},
doi = {10.2172/1326167},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {2015},
month = {1}
}

Works referenced in this record:

Membrane and Catalyst Performance Targets for Automotive Fuel Cells by FCCJ Membrane, Catalyst, MEA WG
conference, January 2011

  • Ohma, Atsushi; Shinohara, Kazuhiko; Iiyama, Akihiro
  • 220th ECS Meeting, ECS Transactions
  • DOI: 10.1149/1.3635611

Platinum supported on titanium-ruthenium oxide is a remarkably stable electrocatayst for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles
journal, December 2013

  • Parrondo, J.; Han, T.; Niangar, E.
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 111, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1319663111

Analysis of Oxygen-Transport Diffusion Resistance in Proton-Exchange-Membrane Fuel Cells
journal, January 2011

  • Nonoyama, Nobuaki; Okazaki, Shinobu; Weber, Adam Z.
  • Journal of The Electrochemical Society, Vol. 158, Issue 4
  • DOI: 10.1149/1.3546038

Measurement of Catalyst Layer Electrolyte Resistance in PEFCs Using Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy
journal, January 2005

  • Makharia, Rohit; Mathias, Mark F.; Baker, Daniel R.
  • Journal of The Electrochemical Society, Vol. 152, Issue 5
  • DOI: 10.1149/1.1888367