Novel Non-Platinum Group Metal Electrocatalysts for PEMFC (DOE-EERE - PI Atanassov)

This program aims the development of Non-Platinum Group Metal (Non-PGM) catalysts for Oxygen Reduction Reaction (ORR) by UNM, NEU, MSU and UTK in collaboration with LANL as technology validator and BASF and Nissan as industrial partners. UNM has introduced a new method for catalysts synthesis: the Sacrificial Support Method (SSM) that allows fabrication of a controlled porosity self supported catalysts by templating. Non-PGM catalysts are obtained by infiltration of silica particles obtained either by aerosol synthesis or microemulsion templating, or commercially available silica particles with defined diameter, with the catalysts precursors. The materials mix is then pyrolyzed under inert atmosphere and the silica particles are dissolved (etched out) with KOH or HF solution. The resulting templated catalysts powder retains hierarchical structure of the silica particles upon which it was synthesized. Such hierarchical structures are advantageous in enhancement of the fuel cell performance since they correspond to the different levels of transport in the corrugated electrode matrixes. We have demonstrated this templating approach on Porphyrins and other ligand-forming compounds are catalyst precursors. A wide variety of materials have been made over the last two years by these methods in which not only the composition but also the microstructure has been varied. Both NEU and Nissan have validated UNM-designed catalyst in independent tests to meet the DOE target requirements for introduction to automotive applications in PEMFC. The family of such materials are being currently scaled up by Pajarito Powder LLC a startup company that licenses UNM IP portfolio and works closely with the UNM team towards industrial deployment of Non-PGM electrocatalysts obtained by the SSM method.

current density

SEM image with a schematic insert of the morphology of a pyrolyzed Fe-Nicrabazin catalyst derived by the SSM method and MEA polarization plots obtained in Nissan with UNM catalyst as a validation of the DOE performance requirement of 100 mA/cm2 to be achieved at 0.8 V polarization.

K. Artyushkova, B. Kiefer, B. Halevi, A. Knop-Gericke, R. Schlogl and P. Atanassov, Density Functional Theory Calculations of XPS Binding Energy Shift for Nitrogen-containing Compounds, Chem. Comm, 49 (2013) 2539-2541
M.H. Robson, A. Serov, K. Artyushkova and P. Atanassov, A Mechanistic Study of 4-Aminoantipyrine and Iron Derived Non-Platinum Group Metal Catalyst on the Oxygen Reduction Reaction, Electrochimica Acta, 90 (2013) 656-665
A. Serov, M.H. Robson, B. Halevi, K. Artyushkova and P. Atanassov, Highly Active and Durable Templated Non-PGM Cathode Catalysts Derived from Iron and Aminoantipyrine, Electrochem. Comm., 22 (2012) 53-56