Graphitic Carbon as Durable Cathode-Catalyst Support for PEFCs



Long-term deterioration in the performance of PEFCs is attributed largely to reduction in active area of the platinum catalyst at cathode, usually caused by carbon-support corrosion. It is found that the use of graphitic carbon as cathode-catalyst support enhances its long-term stability in relation to non-graphitic carbon. This is because graphitic-carbon-supported-Pt (Pt/GrC) cathodes exhibit higher resistance to carbon corrosion in-relation to non-graphitic-carbon-supported-Pt (Pt/Non-GrC) cathodes in PEFCs during accelerated stress test (AST) as evidenced by chronoamperometry and carbon dioxide studies. The corresponding change in electrochemical surface area (ESA), cell performance and charge-transfer resistance are monitored through cyclic voltammetry (CV), cell polarisation and impedance measurements, respectively. The degradation in performance of PEFC with Pt/GrC cathode is found to be around 10% after 70 h of AST as against 77% for Pt/Non-GrC cathode. It is noteworthy that Pt/GrC cathodes can withstand even up to 100 h of AST with nominal effect on their performance. X-ray diffraction (XRD), Raman spectroscopy, transmission electron microscopy and cross-sectional field-emission scanning electron microscopy (FE-SEM) studies before and after AST suggest lesser deformation in catalyst layer and catalyst particles for Pt/GrC cathodes in relation to Pt/Non-GrC cathodes, reflecting that graphitic carbon-support resists carbon corrosion and helps mitigating aggregation of Pt-particles.