Catalyst electrodes with PtCu nanowire arrays in situ grown on gas diffusion layers for direct formic acid fuel cells

Yang Li, Yichang Yan, Yanping He, Shangfeng Du

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The excellent performance and safety of direct formic acid fuel cells (DFAFCs) promote them as potential power sources for portable electronic devices. However, their real application is still highly challenging due to the poor power performance and high complexity in the fabrication of catalyst electrodes. In this work, we demonstrate a new gas diffusion electrode (GDE) with ultrathin PtCu alloy nanowire (NW) arrays in situ grown on the carbon paper gas diffusion layer surface. The growing process is achieved by a facile template- and surfactant-free self-growth assisted reduction method at room temperature. A finely controlled ion reduction process tunes the nucleation and crystal growth of Pt and Cu leading to the formation of alloy nanowires with an average diameter of about 4 nm. The GDE is directly used as the anode for DFAFCs. The results in the half-cell GDE measurement indicate that the introduction of Cu in PtCu NWs boosts the direct oxidation pathway for formic acid. The Pt3Cu1 NW GDE shows a 2.4-fold higher power density compared to the Pt NW GDE in the membrane electrode assembly test in single cells.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11457–11464
Number of pages8
JournalACS Applied Materials & Interfaces
Issue number9
Early online date24 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - 9 Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
XPS data collection was performed at the EPSRC National Facility for XPS (HarwellXPS). SEM and TEM were conducted at the Centre for Electron Microscopy, University of Birmingham. The fuel cell testing was conducted by materials produced using funding awarded by the UK?s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/L015749/1).


  • General Materials Science


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