Boosting cell performance with self-supported PtCu nanotube arrays serving as the cathode in a proton exchange membrane fuel cell
The high cost and huge consumption of the Pt catalyst hinder the large-scale commercialization of fuel cells. To achieve higher cell performance at a relatively low Pt loading, improvements in facilitating the reactant gas transportation and catalyst activity are both essential. Here, a novel catalyst layer based on vertically aligned PtCu nanotube arrays as the cathode was rationally designed and constructed. The thickness of the catalyst layer was almost 400 nm and no ionomer existed in the catalyst layer. At 67.1 μg cm−2 Pt at the cathode, the maximum mass specific power density of 16.08 kW gPt−1 was achieved by the novel catalyst layer, which was 1.64-fold higher than that of the conventional Pt/C catalyst layer (100 μg cm−2). After accelerating durability tests, the catalyst layer based on the PtCu nanotube arrays as the cathode exhibited better stability because the performance was maintained at 79.5% of the initial value, which was higher than that of the conventional Pt/C electrode (64.7%).