Stability of cathode catalyst support material is one of the big challenges of polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEMFC) for long term applications. Traditional carbon black (CB) supports are not stable enough to prevent oxidation to CO2
under fuel cell operating conditions. The feasibility of a graphitized carbon (GC) as a cathode catalyst support for low temperature PEMFC is investigated herein. GC and CB supported Pt electrocatalysts were prepared via an already developed polyol process. The physical characterization of the prepared catalysts was performed using transmission electron microscope (TEM), X-ray Powder Diffraction (XRD) and inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES) analysis, and their electrochemical characterizations were conducted via cyclic voltammetry(CV), rotating disk electrode (RDE) and potential cycling, and eventually, the catalysts were processed using membrane electrode assemblies (MEA) for single cell performance tests. Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) and scanning electrochemical microscopy (SEM) have been used as MEA diagonostic tools. GC showed superior stability over CB in acid electrolyte under potential conditions. Single cell MEA performance of the GC-supported catalyst is comparable with the CB-supported catalyst. A correlation of MEA performance of the supported catalysts of different Brunauer–Emmett–Teller (BET) surface areas with the ionomer content was also established. GC was identified as a promising candidate for catalyst support in terms of both of the stability and the performance of fuel cell.
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