The intriguing poison tolerance of non-precious metal oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) catalysts†
Electrochemical devices such as fuel cells are key to a sustainable energy future. However the applicability of such under realistic conditions is not viable to date. Expensive precious metals are used as electrocatalysts and contaminants present in the operating media poison the utilized catalysts. Here the one pot synthesis of a highly active, self-supporting and surprisingly poison tolerant catalyst is reported. The polymerisation of 1,5-diaminonaphthalene provides self-assembled nanospheres, which upon pyrolysis form a catalytically active high surface area material. Tolerance to a wide range of substances that poison precious metal based catalysts combined with high electrocatalytic activity might enable numerous additional technological applications. In addition to fuel cells these could be metal–air batteries, oxygen-depolarized chlor-alkali cathodes, oxygen sensors, medical implantable devices, waste water treatment and as counter electrodes for many other sensors where the operating medium is a complex and challenging mixture.