The study of nano-particles has brought tremendous progress to fuel cell development in recent years, including high performance electro-catalysts, novel catalyst supports and new electrolyte ionomers. Although exciting results were obtained by ex-situ electro-chemical measurement, most of nano-particles still suffer from quite poor electrode performance in practical fuel cells. An innovative solution is needed to improve and address these issues. This research is mainly focused on two areas:
1. To improve the electrode performance in practical polymer electrolyte fuel cells (PEFCs): novel electro-catalysts with Pt-nano-wire based hybrid nano-structures for enhanced catalytic activity and stability.
2. The optimization of the behavior of electrolyte ionomer aggregates in catalyst electrodes.
Pt-nanowire based hybrid nano-structures
Benefiting from the extremely small thickness (less than half micrometer in comparison with ca. 10 micrometers in conventional catalyst electrodes) and the special properties of Pt-nanowires, Pt-nanowire based thin film catalyst electrodes exhibits promising catalytic properties in PEFCs. Focusing on the promoter effect of hybrid nano-structure on Pt-nano-wires towards the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) and methanol oxidation reaction (MOR) activities in thin film catalyst electrodes, this work is to study the interaction between various nano-particles within hybrid nano-structures and their adhesion with catalyst support and electrolyte membranes.
Particle behavior of electrolyte ionomer aggregates
It has been reported that the optimization of the behavior of electrolyte ionomer aggregates could improve electrode performance. By physical and chemical treatment to electrolyte ionomer aggregates before fabricating catalyst electrodes, we could obtain a better dispersion and an enhanced contact between catalyst particles and electrolyte ionomers, thus reducing the charge transfer resistance and improving the utilization of both catalyst and electrolyte ionomer, finally achieving an enhanced catalytic activity of electrodes.