Non-platinum group metal (non-PGM) catalysts for the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) are set to reduce the cost of polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEFCs) by replacing platinum at the cathode. We previously developed unique nitrogen-doped carbon foams by template-free pyrolysis of alkoxide powders synthesized using a high temperature and high pressure solvothermal reaction. These were shown to be effective ORR electrocatalysts in alkaline media. Here, we present a new optimised synthesis protocol which is carried out at ambient temperature and pressure, enabling us to safely increase the batch size to 2 g, increase the yield by 60%, increase the specific surface area to 1866 m2 g-1, and control the nitrogen content (between 1.0 and 5.2 at%). These optimized nitrogen-doped carbon foams are then utilized as effective supports for Fe-N-C catalysts for the ORR in acid media, whilst multiphysics modelling is used to gain insight into the electrochemical performance. This work highlights the importance of the properties of the carbon support in the design of Pt-free electrocatalysts.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)
- Mechanics of Materials
- Mechanical Engineering
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering