Nitrogen-doped carbon foam as a highly durable metal-free electrocatalyst for the oxygen reduction reaction in alkaline solution

Jianfeng Liu, Benjamin V. Cunning, Takeshi Daio, Albert Mufundirwa, Kazunari Sasaki, Stephen M. Lyth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Nitrogen-doped carbon foam (CFN) with large surface area is synthesized via a template-free, scalable combustion technique using diethanolamine as a nitrogen source. The resulting macroporous, open-cell foam has micron-scale hollow cells, surrounded by thin, graphene-like walls. This material is applied as a metal-free electrocatalyst for the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) in alkaline KOH solution. The activity of this metal-free electrocatalyst at the half-wave potential is just 43 mV lower than that of platinum-decorated carbon (Pt/CB), but 87 mV lower than a commercially available Fe-containing non-precious electrocatalyst (Pajarito Powder, PP), suggesting that iron is important in achieving the highest activities. In durability tests measured over 60,000 potential cycles, Pt/CB and PP undergo significant degradation, whilst the non-precious CFN electrocatalyst shows negligible change, indicating high stability of the electrochemical active sites compared with platinum or iron. Such metal-free catalysts therefore show great promise as electrocatalysts for specific alkaline ion exchange membrane fuel cell (AEMFC) applications where long lifetimes are most important.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)554-561
Number of pages8
JournalElectrochimica Acta
Volume220
Early online date14 Oct 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016

Keywords

  • alkaline
  • durability
  • fuel cells
  • nitrogen-doped carbon
  • non-precious catalysis
  • carbon foam
  • electrocatalyst

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