Standard Article

Effects of contaminants on catalyst activity

Advances in Electrocatalysis, Materials, Diagnostics and Durability

Electrocatalyst materials for low temperature fuel cells

Catalyst durability

  1. F. H. Garzon,
  2. F. A. Uribe

Published Online: 15 DEC 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470974001.f500017

Handbook of Fuel Cells

Handbook of Fuel Cells

How to Cite

Garzon, F. H. and Uribe, F. A. 2010. Effects of contaminants on catalyst activity. Handbook of Fuel Cells. .

Author Information

  1. Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 DEC 2010


Hydrogen fuel and ambient air contaminants that exhibit strong electrode catalyst chemisorption may severely degrade the performance of polymer membrane fuel cells. Common fuel-reforming impurities include carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulfide and air impurities include sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides. CO contamination at parts per million (ppm) levels severely affects fuel cell performance; however, a number of methods including depolarization, air bleeding, and CO tolerant catalyst alloys will mitigate the performance losses. In contrast, the deposition of S on Pt surface from adsorption of sub-ppm levels of H2S in the H2-fuel stream results in severe fuel cell performance degradation. The oxidative removal of adsorbed S is a kinetically hindered process and is not achievable at reasonable rates in normal fuel cell operation.


  • fuel cells;
  • contaminants;
  • impurities;
  • catalyst activity;
  • chemisorption;
  • impurity tolerance;