A highly stable anode, carbon-free, catalyst support based on tungsten trioxide nanoclusters for proton-exchange membrane fuel cells.

Research paper by Meiling M Dou, Ming M Hou, Huabing H Zhang, Guangfu G Li, Wangting W Lu, Zidong Z Wei, Zhigang Z Shao, Baolian B Yi

Indexed on: 26 Apr '12Published on: 26 Apr '12Published in: ChemSusChem


Durability is an important issue in proton-exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs). One of the major challenges lies in the degradation caused by the oxidation of the carbon support under high anode potentials (under fuel starvation conditions). Herein, we report highly stable, carbon-free, WO(3) nanoclusters as catalyst supports. The WO(3) nanoclusters are synthesized through a hard template method and characterized by means of electron microscopy and electrochemical analysis. The electrochemical studies show that the WO(3) nanoclusters have excellent electrochemical stability under a high potential (1.6 V for 10 h) compared to Vulcan XC-72. Pt nanoparticles supported on these nanoclusters exhibit high and stable electrocatalytic activity for the oxidation of hydrogen. The catalyst shows negligible loss in electrochemically active surface area (ECA) after an accelerated durability test, whereas the ECA of the Pt nanoparticles immobilized on conventional carbon decreases significantly after the same oxidation condition. Therefore, Pt/WO(3) could be considered as a promising alternative anode catalyst for PEMFCs.