MOF derived catalysts for electrochemical oxygen reduction†
Developing noble metal free catalysts for the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) is of critical importance for the production of low cost polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells. In this paper, metal organic frameworks (MOFs) are used as precursors to synthesize ORR catalysts via pyrolysis in an inert atmosphere. The ORR performance is found to be closely associated with the metal/ligand combination in MOFs. The Co-imidazole based MOF (ZIF-67) derived catalyst exhibits the best ORR activity in both alkaline and acidic electrolytes. The Co cations coordinated by the aromatic nitrogen ligands in ZIF-67 may assist the formation of ORR active sites in the derived catalyst. The best ORR performance is obtained when the porosity of the derived catalyst is maximized, by optimizing the pyrolysis temperature and the acid leaching process. The performance of the best MOF derived catalyst is comparable to that of Pt/C in both alkaline and acidic electrolytes.