Nanoparticle catalysts for proton exchange membrane fuel cells: Can surfactant effects be beneficial for electrocatalysis?

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Colleges, School and Institutes


Platinum (Pt) nanoparticles were prepared in aqueous dispersion using the non-ionic surfactant nonylphenolethoxylate (NP9) and the cationic surfactant tetradecyltrimethylammonium bromide (TTAB). The surfactants were added to give colloidal stability. Such species are generally considered to block electrochemical active sites and to be undesirable for the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR). However, the procedures used to remove them are likely to cause particle aggregation. The purpose of this work was to investigate the effect of surfactants on Pt ORR performance. The nanoparticles prepared using NP9 showed good oxygen reduction performance when compared with the commercial Pt/C catalyst TKK, without removing the surfactant. In contrast, Pt nanoparticles prepared using the cationic surfactant TTAB showed very poor ORR performance, exemplifying the importance of careful surfactant selection in catalyst synthesis.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11435-11446
Number of pages12
JournalPhysical Chemistry Chemical Physics
Issue number23
Early online date7 May 2014
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jun 2014