Direct alcohol fuel cells, polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells, nanoscale materials, methanol, ethanol, formic acid
Polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) have recently acquired much attention as alternatives to combustion engines for power conversion. The primary interest in fuel cell technology is the possibility of 60% power conversion efficiency as compared to the 30% maximum theoretical efficiency limited to combustion engines and turbines. Although originally conceived to work with hydrogen as a fuel, difficulties relating to hydrogen storage have prompted much effort in using other fuels. Small organic molecules such as alcohols and formic acid have shown promise as alternatives to hydrogen in PEMFCs due to their higher stability at ambient conditions. The drawbacks for using these fuels in PEMFCs are related to their incomplete oxidation mechanisms, which lead to the production of carbon monoxide (CO). When carbon monoxide is released in fuel cells it binds strongly to the platinum anode thus limiting the adsorption and subsequent oxidation of more fuel. In order to promote the complete oxidation of fuels and limit poisoning due to CO, various metal and metal oxide catalysts have been used. Motivated by promising results seen in fuel cell catalysis, this research project is focused on the design and fabrication of novel platinum-composite catalysts for the electrooxidation of methanol, ethanol and formic acid. Various Pt-composites were fabricated including Pt-Au, PtRu, Pt-Pd and Pt-CeO2 catalysts. Electrochemical techniques were used to determine the catalytic ability of each novel composite toward the electrooxidation of methanol, ethanol and formic acid. This study indicates that the novel composites all have higher catalytic ability than bare Pt electrodes. The increase in catalytic ability is mostly attributed to the increase in CO poison tolerance and promotion of the complete oxidation mechanism of methanol, ethanol and iv formic acid. Formulations including bi- and tri-composite catalysts were fabricated and in many cases show the highest catalytic oxidation, suggesting tertiary catalytic effects. The combination of bi-metallic composites with ceria also showed highly increased catalytic oxidation ability. The following dissertation expounds on the relationship between composite material and the electrooxidation of methanol, ethanol and formic acid. The full electrochemical and material characterization of each composite electrode is provided.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences, Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic
Anderson, Jordan, "Electrochemical Studies Of Nanoscale Composite Materials As Electrodes In Direct Alcohol Fuel Cells" (2012). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2004-2019. 2436.