Elucidating the degradation mechanism of the cathode catalyst of PEFCs by a combination of electrochemical methods and X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy

Francisco Javier Monzo Gimenez, Dennis van der Vliet, Alex Yanson, Paramaconi Rodriguez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
196 Downloads (Pure)


In this study, we report a methodology which enables the determination of the degradation mechanisms responsible for catalyst deterioration under different accelerated stress protocols (ASPs) by combining measurements of the electrochemical surface area (ECSA) and Pt content (by X-ray fluorescence). The validation of this method was assessed on high surface area unsupported Pt nanoparticles (Pt-NPs), Pt nanoparticles supported on TaC (Pt/TaC) and Pt nanoparticles supported on Vulcan carbon (Pt/Vulcan). In the load cycle protocol, the degradation of Pt-NPs and Pt/Vulcan follows associative processes (e.g. agglomeration) in the first 2000 cycles, however, in successive cycles the degradation goes through dissociative processes such as Pt dissolution, as is evident from a similar decay of ECSA and Pt content. In contrast, the degradation mechanism for Pt nanoparticles dispersed on TaC occurs continuously through the dissociative processes (e.g. Pt dissolution or particle detachment), with similar decay rates of both Pt content and ECSA. In the start-up/shut-down protocol, high surface area Pt-NPs follow associative processes (e.g. Ostwald ripening) in the first 4000 cycles, after which the degradation continues through dissociative processes. On the other hand, dissociative mechanisms always govern the degradation of Pt/TaC under start-up/shut-down protocol conditions. Finally, we report that Pt nanoparticles supported on TaC exhibit the highest catalytic activity and long term durability of the three nanoparticle systems tested. This makes Pt/TaC a potentially valuable catalyst system for application in polymer electrolyte fuel cell cathodes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22407-22415
Number of pages9
JournalPhysical Chemistry Chemical Physics
Issue number32
Early online date14 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - 28 Aug 2016


  • polymer electrolyte fuel cell (PEFC)
  • degradation mechanism
  • Nanoparticles
  • X-ray fluorescence
  • Catalyst support
  • Catalyst layer
  • Electrocatalysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrochemistry
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Catalysis
  • Metals and Alloys


Dive into the research topics of 'Elucidating the degradation mechanism of the cathode catalyst of PEFCs by a combination of electrochemical methods and X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this