Standard Article

Time to move beyond transition metal — N — C catalysts for oxygen reduction

Advances in Electrocatalysis, Materials, Diagnostics and Durability

Electrocatalyst materials for low temperature fuel cells

Novel catalysts

  1. A. Garsuch,
  2. A. Bonakdarpour,
  3. G. Liu,
  4. R. Yang,
  5. J. R. Dahn

Published Online: 15 DEC 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470974001.f500005

Handbook of Fuel Cells

Handbook of Fuel Cells

How to Cite

Garsuch, A., Bonakdarpour, A., Liu, G., Yang, R. and Dahn, J. R. 2010. Time to move beyond transition metal — N — C catalysts for oxygen reduction. Handbook of Fuel Cells. .

Author Information

  1. Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 DEC 2010


Fe[BOND]N[BOND]C and Co[BOND]N[BOND]C electrocatalysts have been studied for many years by numerous research groups. Various synthesis routes, involving different precursors, different temperatures, etc., have been employed, but “successful” catalysts share the common features of Fe or Co, N, and C and a heat-treatment step to around 800 °C. It is our contention that the thermodynamics, not the details of the precursors or synthesis steps, determines the local atomic arrangement of Fe, N, and C or Co, N, and C in these catalysts after heating and, as such, the catalysts prepared by all researchers in this field are basically the same. In this article, compelling evidence for this contention is presented. These catalysts, presumably all, share the same advantages, which include reasonable activity, and disadvantages, which include short lifetime. Therefore, the study of Fe[BOND]N[BOND]C and Co[BOND]N[BOND]C catalysts is overpopulated by researchers, and most should probably shift their focus to the search for new nonnoble metal catalysts involving other elements in the periodic table.


  • non-noble metal catalysts;
  • oxygen reduction;
  • iron;
  • cobalt;
  • porous carbon;
  • high surface area catalysts;
  • rotating-ring-disk-electrode