High-Performance Electrocatalysts for Oxygen Reduction Derived from Polyaniline, Iron, and Cobalt

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Science  22 Apr 2011:
Vol. 332, Issue 6028, pp. 443-447
DOI: 10.1126/science.1200832

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The prohibitive cost of platinum for catalyzing the cathodic oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) has hampered the widespread use of polymer electrolyte fuel cells. We describe a family of non–precious metal catalysts that approach the performance of platinum-based systems at a cost sustainable for high-power fuel cell applications, possibly including automotive power. The approach uses polyaniline as a precursor to a carbon-nitrogen template for high-temperature synthesis of catalysts incorporating iron and cobalt. The most active materials in the group catalyze the ORR at potentials within ~60 millivolts of that delivered by state-of-the-art carbon-supported platinum, combining their high activity with remarkable performance stability for non–precious metal catalysts (700 hours at a fuel cell voltage of 0.4 volts) as well as excellent four-electron selectivity (hydrogen peroxide yield <1.0%).

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