Mo2C – Pt System for Fuel Cell Applications

Cabrera, Jose
The global need for energy is constantly increasing, and with that the need for alternative energy sources. Our research focuses on the potential of proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) as an alternative solution to our current global energy high demands. The beauty of PEMFCs lies in the fact that it serves as a connecting piece between fossil fuels and the new era of hydrogen economy because: 1) stationary PEMFCs allow use of natural gas or syngas as their feedstock, but with a much higher efficiency than simply burning them; 2) hydrogen as a commodity is still produced mainly from fossil fuels. The major drawback is the high cost of PEM fuel cells resulting from the high loading of precious metal electrocatalyst as well as assembly durability. This project takes advantage of the current, and rapidly increasing nanofabrication techniques to synthesize phase-pure molybdenum carbide (Mo2C) nanotube. Subsequently, by further modifying the Mo2C system through the addition of platinum, an expensive noble metal, via atomic layer deposition (ALD), it is desired to study and understand the synergy between Pt and phase-pure Mo2C nanotubes. Such understanding will allow further Pt loading reduction without compromising desirable catalytic activity, increasing the longevity and performance of the cell, while further reducing the cost.
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