A predictive method for efficient catalysts of the ORR reaction in hydrogen fuel cells.

A predictive method for efficient catalysts of the ORR reaction in hydrogen fuel cells.

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A key technological obstacle to the widespread adoption of proton exchange membrane fuel cells is the development of highly active and durable platinum-based catalysts to accelerate the slow oxygen reduction reaction (ORR). A team of CNR researchers from the Institute of Chemistry of Organometallic Compounds (CNR-ICCOM) and the Institute for Physical Chemistry Processes (CNR-IPCF), in collaboration with the Universities of California in Los Angeles and Irvine (USA), Northeastern University in Boston (USA), California Institute of Technology in Pasadena (CALTECH, USA), Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton (USA), Fuzhou University in Fuzhou (China), published the results of a study in which the critical characteristics, the so-called descriptors, of the materials that can be used in devices with hydrogen fuel cells have been identified, which make it possible to identify the most performing material. The authors developed a binary experimental descriptor that captures both the deformation and the coupling contributions of the transition metal (Pt) through X-ray absorption spectroscopy. With this method it was possible to obtain a so-called Sabatier diagram to predict both the catalytic activity and the stability for a wide range of platinum-alloy catalysts that can promote the oxygen reduction reaction. “The catalysts normally used do not meet the necessary requirements in terms of efficiency and durability. By identifying appropriate descriptors for this process, we have been able to develop new catalysts, which have been found to be the most promising for use in hydrogen cells, as they are much more durable and perform close to peak performance “, comments Alessandro Fortunelli, CNR-ICCOM Research Director of the Secondary Office of Pisa who co-directed the study.

Huang J.; Sementa L.; Liu Z.; Barcaro G.; Feng M.; Liu E.; Jiao L.; Xu M.; Leshchev D.; Lee S.-J.; Li M.; Wan C.; Zhu E.; Liu Y.; Peng B.; Duan X.; Goddard W.A.; Fortunelli A.; Jia Q.; Huang Y. “Experimental Sabatier plot for predictive design of active and stable Pt-alloy oxygen reduction reaction catalysts“. Nat Catal 2022, 5, 513–523.

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