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Sputtered Platinum Thin-films for Oxygen Reduction in Gas Diffusion Electrodes: A Model System for Studies under Realistic Reaction Conditions

1
Nano-Science Centre, Department of Chemistry, University of Copenhagen, Universitetsparken 5, 2100 Copenhagen Ø, Denmark
2
Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and Technology, Felix-Hausdorff-Strasse 2, 17489 Greifswald, Germany
3
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Bern, 3006 Bern, Switzerland
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Surfaces 2019, 2(2), 336-348; https://doi.org/10.3390/surfaces2020025
Received: 20 March 2019 / Revised: 16 April 2019 / Accepted: 24 April 2019 / Published: 28 April 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Electrochemical Surface Science: Basics and Applications)
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Abstract

The development of catalysts for the oxygen reduction reaction in low-temperature fuel cells depends on efficient and accurate electrochemical characterization methods. Currently, two primary techniques exist: rotating disk electrode (RDE) measurements in half-cells with liquid electrolyte and single cell tests with membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs). While the RDE technique allows for rapid catalyst benchmarking, it is limited to electrode potentials far from operating fuel cells. On the other hand, MEAs can provide direct performance data at realistic conditions but require specialized equipment and large quantities of catalyst, making them less ideal for early-stage development. Using sputtered platinum thin-film electrodes, we show that gas diffusion electrode (GDE) half-cells can be used as an intermediate platform for rapid benchmarking at fuel-cell relevant current densities (~1 A cm−2). Furthermore, we demonstrate how different parameters (loading, electrolyte concentration, humidification, and Nafion membrane) influence the performance of unsupported platinum catalysts. The specific activity could be measured independent of the applied loading at potentials down to 0.80 VRHE reaching a value of 0.72 mA cm−2 at 0.9 VRHE in the GDE. By comparison with RDE measurements and Pt/C measurements, we establish the importance of catalyst characterization under realistic reaction conditions. View Full-Text
Keywords: electrocatalysis; oxygen reduction; ORR; gas diffusion electrode; platinum; fuel cells; thin-films; benchmarking; mass transport electrocatalysis; oxygen reduction; ORR; gas diffusion electrode; platinum; fuel cells; thin-films; benchmarking; mass transport
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Sievers, G.W.; Jensen, A.W.; Brüser, V.; Arenz, M.; Escudero-Escribano, M. Sputtered Platinum Thin-films for Oxygen Reduction in Gas Diffusion Electrodes: A Model System for Studies under Realistic Reaction Conditions. Surfaces 2019, 2, 336-348.

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