Nanomaterials Applied to Fuel Cells and Catalysts

A special issue of Nanomaterials (ISSN 2079-4991). This special issue belongs to the section "Energy and Catalysis".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 10 November 2024 | Viewed by 4175

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
Institute of Materials and Environmental Chemistry, Excellence Centre of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Research Centre for Natural Sciences, Magyar Tudósok Körútja 2, 1117 Budapest, Hungary
Interests: proton exchange membrane fuel cell electrocatalysts; membrane electrode assemblies

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Hydrogen and fuel cell technologies are accepted by consensus as part of the future energy system, especially in hard-to-abate segments where electrification is not an efficient solution. In the transport sector, fuel cell electric powertrain is an excellent choice where long range and/or high payloads are required. In stationary power generation, fuel cells have a higher electricity generation efficiency than most other technologies, such as gas turbines and engines. Reversible fuel cells have great potential in coupling energy sectors at gas and electricity grid nodes.

However, before higher-mass market penetration is reached, further developments are needed to increase lifetime, fuel flexibility, reduce costs and increase efficiency to be competitive with conventional technologies. Development of new disruptive technologies based on materials science are necessary.

The Special Issue "Nanomaterials Applied to Fuel Cells and Catalysts" focuses on the development, characterization and validation of new fuel cell components, free of critical raw materials or unsustainable or environmentally unacceptable constituents without compromising performance and durability of fuel cells. Although fuel cells have relatively few key components, such as catalysts, membrane electrode assemblies, bipolar plates and gas diffusion layers, the materials science behind the development of these components is quite complex. Experts simultaneously have to pay attention to material transport, electrical as well as proton and oxide ion conductivity issues, electrocatalytic activity and selectivity and the processes that occur at the boundaries of different nanostructures and phases during operation, leading to changes in transport phenomena and generally to performance loss in time. Advanced operando techniques have to be developed in order to follow aging mechanisms under real-world conditions (i.e., working temperature, dynamic load, pressure) and in the presence of contaminants (e.g., from fuel and air).

In this Special Issue, new solutions are explored to reduce costs, increase lifetime and more efficient operation of the fuel cells.

Dr. András Tompos
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • reduction in platinum group metal content
  • reversible fuel cells
  • fuel flexibility
  • stability of electrocatalysts
  • degradation mechanisms
  • operando characterizations
  • composite materials nanostructures and interfaces
  • reaction mechasnisms and kinetics

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

20 pages, 11892 KiB  
Article
Stability of Graphene/Nafion Composite in PEM FC Electrodes
by Anna O. Krasnova, Nadezhda V. Glebova, Angelina G. Kastsova, Anna O. Pelageikina, Alexey V. Redkov, Maria V. Tomkovich and Andrey A. Nechitailov
Nanomaterials 2024, 14(11), 922; https://doi.org/10.3390/nano14110922 - 24 May 2024
Viewed by 309
Abstract
Ensuring the stable operation of proton exchange membrane fuel cells is conducive to their real-world application. A promising direction for stabilizing electrodes is the stabilization of the ionomer via the formation of surface compounds with graphene. A comprehensive study of the (electrochemical, chemical, [...] Read more.
Ensuring the stable operation of proton exchange membrane fuel cells is conducive to their real-world application. A promising direction for stabilizing electrodes is the stabilization of the ionomer via the formation of surface compounds with graphene. A comprehensive study of the (electrochemical, chemical, and thermal) stability of composites for fuel cell electrodes containing a modifying additive of few-layer graphene was carried out. Electrochemical stability was studied by cycling the potential on a disk electrode for 5000 cycles. Chemical stability was assessed via the resistance of the composites to H2O2 treatment using ion-selective potentiometry. Thermal stability was studied using differential thermal analysis. Composites were characterized by UV-Vis spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy, EDX, and SEM. It was shown that graphene inhibits Nafion degradation when exposed to heat. Contrariwise, Nafion is corrosive to graphene. During electrochemical and chemical exposure, the determining change for carbon-rich composites is the carbon loss (oxidation) of the carbon material. In the case of carbon-poor composites, the removal of fluorine and sulfur from the Nafion polymer with their partial replacement by oxygen prevails. In all cases, the F/S ratio is stable. The dispersity of Nafion in a sample affects its chemical stability more than the G/Nafion ratio does. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanomaterials Applied to Fuel Cells and Catalysts)
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13 pages, 3225 KiB  
Article
Electrochemical Performance of Metal-Free Carbon-Based Catalysts from Different Hydrothermal Carbonization Treatments for Oxygen Reduction Reaction
by Aldo Girimonte, Andrea Stefani, Clara Mucci, Roberto Giovanardi, Andrea Marchetti, Massimo Innocenti and Claudio Fontanesi
Nanomaterials 2024, 14(2), 173; https://doi.org/10.3390/nano14020173 - 12 Jan 2024
Viewed by 1030
Abstract
This research investigates the difference between products obtained through two hydrothermal carbonization treatments. Our aim is to synthesize metal-free, carbon-based catalysts for the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) to serve as efficient and cost-effective alternatives to platinum-based catalysts. Catalysts synthesized using the traditional hydrothermal [...] Read more.
This research investigates the difference between products obtained through two hydrothermal carbonization treatments. Our aim is to synthesize metal-free, carbon-based catalysts for the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) to serve as efficient and cost-effective alternatives to platinum-based catalysts. Catalysts synthesized using the traditional hydrothermal approach exhibit a higher electrocatalytic activity for ORR in alkaline media, despite their more energy-intensive production process. The superior performance is attributed to differences in the particle morphology and the chemical composition of the particle surfaces. The presence of functional groups on the surfaces of catalysts obtained via a traditional approach significantly enhances ORR activity by facilitating deprotonation reactions in an alkaline environment. Our research aims to provide a reference for future investigations, shifting the focus to the fine-tuning of surface chemical compositions and morphologies of metal-free catalysts to enhance ORR activity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanomaterials Applied to Fuel Cells and Catalysts)
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12 pages, 2810 KiB  
Article
A Nanofiber-Based Gas Diffusion Layer for Improved Performance in Air Cathode Microbial Fuel Cells
by Giulia Massaglia, Tommaso Serra, Fabrizio Candido Pirri and Marzia Quaglio
Nanomaterials 2023, 13(20), 2801; https://doi.org/10.3390/nano13202801 - 21 Oct 2023
Viewed by 1184
Abstract
This work investigates a new nanostructured gas diffusion layer (nano-GDL) to improve the performance of air cathode single-chamber microbial fuel cells (a-SCMFCs). The new nano-GDLs improve the direct oxygen reduction reaction by exploiting the best qualities of nanofibers from electrospinning in terms of [...] Read more.
This work investigates a new nanostructured gas diffusion layer (nano-GDL) to improve the performance of air cathode single-chamber microbial fuel cells (a-SCMFCs). The new nano-GDLs improve the direct oxygen reduction reaction by exploiting the best qualities of nanofibers from electrospinning in terms of high surface-area-to-volume ratio, high porosity, and laser-based processing to promote adhesion. By electrospinning, nano-GDLs were fabricated directly by collecting two nanofiber mats on the same carbon-based electrode, acting as the substrate. Each layer was designed with a specific function: water-resistant, oxygen-permeable polyvinylidene-difluoride (PVDF) nanofibers served as a barrier to prevent water-based electrolyte leakage, while an inner layer of cellulose nanofibers was added to promote oxygen diffusion towards the catalytic sites. The maximum current density obtained for a-SCMFCs with the new nano-GDLs is 132.2 ± 10.8 mA m−2, and it doubles the current density obtained with standard PTFE-based GDL (58.5 ± 2.4 mA m−2) used as reference material. The energy recovery (EF) factor, i.e., the ratio of the power output to the inner volume of the device, was then used to evaluate the overall performance of a-SCMFCs. a-SCMFCs with nano-GDL provided an EF value of 60.83 mJ m−3, one order of magnitude higher than the value of 3.92 mJ m−3 obtained with standard GDL. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanomaterials Applied to Fuel Cells and Catalysts)
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23 pages, 9450 KiB  
Article
Reductive Treatment of Pt Supported on Ti0.8Sn0.2O2-C Composite: A Route for Modulating the Sn–Pt Interactions
by Cristina Silva, Khirdakhanim Salmanzade, Irina Borbáth, Erzsébet Dódony, Dániel Olasz, György Sáfrán, Andrei Kuncser, Erzsébet Pászti-Gere, András Tompos and Zoltán Pászti
Nanomaterials 2023, 13(15), 2245; https://doi.org/10.3390/nano13152245 - 3 Aug 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1112
Abstract
The composites of transition metal-doped titania and carbon have emerged as promising supports for Pt electrocatalysts in PEM fuel cells. In these multifunctional supports, the oxide component stabilizes the Pt particles, while the dopant provides a co-catalytic function. Among other elements, Sn is [...] Read more.
The composites of transition metal-doped titania and carbon have emerged as promising supports for Pt electrocatalysts in PEM fuel cells. In these multifunctional supports, the oxide component stabilizes the Pt particles, while the dopant provides a co-catalytic function. Among other elements, Sn is a valuable additive. Stong metal-support interaction (SMSI), i.e., the migration of a partially reduced oxide species from the support to the surface of Pt during reductive treatment is a general feature of TiO2-supported Pt catalysts. In order to explore the influence of SMSI on the stability and performance of Pt/Ti0.8Sn0.2O2-C catalysts, the structural and catalytic properties of the as prepared samples measured using XRD, TEM, XPS and electrochemical investigations were compared to those obtained from catalysts reduced in hydrogen at elevated temperatures. According to the observations, the uniform oxide coverage of the carbon backbone facilitated the formation of Pt–oxide–C triple junctions at a high density. The electrocatalytic behavior of the as prepared catalysts was determined by the atomic closeness of Sn to Pt, while even a low temperature reductive treatment resulted in Sn–Pt alloying. The segregation of tin oxide on the surface of the alloy particles, a characteristic material transport process in Sn–Pt alloys after oxygen exposure, contributed to a better stability of the reduced catalysts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanomaterials Applied to Fuel Cells and Catalysts)
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Nanostructured gas diffusion layer to improve direct oxygen reduction reaction in Air-Cathode Single-Chamber Microbial Fuel Cells
Authors: Giulia Massaglia; Candido F. Pirri; Marzia Quaglio
Affiliation: 1) Department of Applied Science and TEchnolgoy, Politecnico di Torino, 10129, Corso Duca degli Abruzzi 24, Italy; 2) Center for Sustainable Future Technologies, Italian Institute of Technology, 10100, Via Livorno 60, Turin, Italy
Abstract: The aim of this work is the development of new nanostructured-gas-diffusion-layer (GDL) to improve the overall behaviour of Air-Cathode Single-Chamber-Microbial-Fuel-Cells (SCMFCs). The design of new nanostructured-GDL allowed exploiting all nanofibers ’intrinsic properties, such as high surface ratio to volume, high porosity, achieving thus a good oxygen diffusion into the proximity of catalyst layer, favouring thus the direct oxygen-reduction-reaction (ORR). Nanostructured-GDLs were prepared by electrospinning process, using a layer-by-layer deposition to collect 2 nanofibers’ mats. The first layer was made of cellulose nanofibers able to promote oxygen diffusion into SCMFC. The second layer, placed outwards, was based on polyvinyl-fluoride (PVDF) nanofibers to prevent the electrolyte leakage. This nanostructured-GDL plays a pivotal role to improve the overall performance of Air-Cathode-SCMFCs. A maximum current density of (132.2 ± 10.8) mA m-2 was obtained, which is two times higher than the one reached with commercial-PTFE (close to (58.5 ± 2.4) mA m-2), used as reference material. All results were analysed in terms of energy recovery parameter, defined as ratio of generated power integral and the internal volume of devices, evaluating the overall SCMFC performance. SCMFCs with a nanostructured-GDL showed an energy recovery equal to 60.83 mJ m-3, which was one order of magnitude higher than the one obtained with commercial-PTFE, close to 3.92 mJ m-3.

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