Standard Article

Poisons for the O2 reduction reaction


The oxygen reduction/evolution reaction

  1. U. A. Paulus1,
  2. T. J. Schmidt1,
  3. H. A. Gasteiger2

Published Online: 15 DEC 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470974001.f205043

Handbook of Fuel Cells

Handbook of Fuel Cells

How to Cite

Paulus, U. A., Schmidt, T. J. and Gasteiger, H. A. 2010. Poisons for the O2 reduction reaction. Handbook of Fuel Cells. .

Author Information

  1. 1

    Paul Scherrer Institut, Villigen PSI, Switzerland

  2. 2

    GM Global R&D, Global Alternative Propulsion Center, Honeoye Falls, NY, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 DEC 2010


We reviewed the influence of various kinds of impurities on the oxygen reduction reaction mainly on platinum as electrocatalyst. Our discussion includes data obtained from work with smooth polycrystalline platinum electrodes or platinum single crystals, data obtained from supported catalysts and as far as available results obtained with membrane electrode assemblies in fuel cells. It is shown that the oxygen reduction reaction activity can be affected significantly by the presence of contaminants which may or may not change its reaction pathway (transition from a 4e reduction to a 2e reduction or vice versa).

The effect of anionic and cationic (mainly copper) additives is discussed as well as the influence of the presence of methanol (representing the class of organic contaminants). Throughout this discussion, it becomes evident that the various additives affect the oxygen reduction reaction in different ways. Nevertheless, generally it can be stated that the efficient usage of the electrocatalytic oxygen reduction reaction at a platinum catalyst results in a high level of purity during all processes connected with fuel cell assembly and operation.


  • oxygen reduction reaction;
  • rotating ring disk electrode;
  • impurities;
  • adsorption of anion;
  • underpotential deposition;
  • cations;
  • adsorption of methanol;
  • polymer electrolyte fuel cell (PEFC);
  • direct methanol fuel cell