Probing of complex carbon nanofiber paper as gas-diffusion electrode for high temperature polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell†
The development of fuel cells is an important part of alternative energy studies. High-temperature polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell (HT-PEMFC) is a very promising and commercialized type of fuel cell since it allows the use of hydrogen contaminated with CO. However, current advances in HT-PEMFC are based on searching for more sustainable materials for the membrane electrode assembly. The key issue is to find new, more stable carbonaceous Pt-electrocatalyst supports instead of the traditional carbon black powder. In the present study, we primarily demonstrate a new electrode design concept. Complex carbon nanofiber paper (CNFP) electrodes, obtained by polyacrylonitrile (PAN) electrospinning with further pyrolysis at 900–1200 °C, are suitable for platinum deposition and were probed as the gas-diffusion electrode for HT-PEMFC. Complex composite electrodes were obtained by introducing zirconium and nickel salts into the electrospinning PAN solution. After pyrolysis, ZrOx and Ni(0) nanoparticles were distributed in the CNFP throughout the whole nanofiber volume, as it is seen in the high-resolution transmission electron microscopy images. The samples were thoroughly studied by X-ray photoelectron, Raman and impedance spectroscopy, cyclic voltammetry, and elemental analysis. The MEAs designed on platinized composite CNFPs demonstrate higher performance at 180 °C compared to non-composite ones and are comparable with commercial Celtec® P1000.