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Title: Synthesis and characterization of carbon catalyst substrates for fuel cell applications
Author: Moore, Ashley Dawn
ISNI:       0000 0004 2708 0725
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2011
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The work in this thesis addresses the synthesis and characterization of porous carbon substrates, and their electrochemical and fuel cell evaluation. The approach involves using porous carbon materials of different pore characteristics as electrocatalyst materials for use as cathode catalyst substrates in direct methanol fuel cells (DMFC). In this work, a porous carbon, known as carbonaceous Celatom or C-Celatom, was prepared by template synthesis using a widely abundant, inexpensive macroporous silica structure diatomaceous earth (Celatom FW-80). Ordered mesoporous carbon CMK-3 was also produced by template synthesis of mesoporous silica SBA-15. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and x-ray diffraction (XRD) were used to confirm the synthesis of the desired carbon structures. Three different platinum deposition techniques were investigated for electrocatalyst synthesis, an incipient wetness technique, as ethylene glycol reduction technique, and an alkoxide reduction technique. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and SEM analysis of the catalysts formed using the incipient wetness and ethylene glycol techniques showed that the synthesized catalysts were not suitable for fuel cell use. Optimization of the alkoxide reduction technique resulted in a deposition technique that resulted in a well-dispersed catalyst with small, uniform particle sizes (2.1-3.1 nm). The synthesized electrocatalysts were evaluated electrochemically and found to have high electrochemically active surface areas (ESA) of 33.38 m2 g-1 for Pt/Vulcan XC-72, 22.45 m2 g-1 for Pt/CMK-3 and 20.51 m2 g-1 for Pt/C-Celatom. The oxygen reduction (ORR) activity was evaluated by linear sweep voltammetry(LSV). The Pt/C-Celatom exhibited the greatest activity towards the oxygen reduction reaction, and the greatest number of active sites for the ORR. Assessment of the material by electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) also showed that an MEA with C-Celatom as the cathode catalyst has the lowest combines charge transfer and mass transport resistance. Single cell DMFC testing was carried out with each of the experimental substrates. The synthesized catalysts demonstrated high performance over a range of temperatures and feed molarity concentrations. The C-Celatom MEA exhibited the greatest power output of the synthesized catalysts for low molarity operation, with peak power densities of 25.8 and 32.6 mW cm-2 with 0.5M and 1M feed respectively.
Supervisor: Roberts, Ted ; Holmes, Stuart Sponsor: North American Foundation for the University of Manchester
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: fuel cells ; electrochemistry ; carbon ; materials ; DMFC