Development of transition metal macrocyclic-catalysts supported on multi-walled carbon nanotubes for alkaline membrane fuel cell
Low temperature fuel cells are very attractive energy conversion technology for automotive applications due to their qualities of being clean, quiet, efficient and good peak power densities. However, due to high cost and limited durability and reliability, commercialization of this technology has not been possible as yet. The high fuel cell cost is mostly due to the expensive noble catalyst Pt. Alkaline fuel cell (AFC) systems, have potential to make use of non-noble catalysts and thus, provides with a solution of overall lower cost. Therefore, this issue has been addressed in this thesis work. Hydrogen-oxygen fuel cells using an alkaline anion exchange membrane were prepared and evaluated. Various non-platinum catalyst materials were investigated by fabricating membrane-electrode assemblies (MEAs) using Tokuyama membrane (# A201) and compared with commercial noble metal catalysts. Co and Fe phthalocyanine catalyst materials were synthesized using multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) as support materials. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopic study was conducted in order to examine the surface composition. The electroreduction of oxygen has been investigated on Fe phthalocyanine/MWCNT, Co phthalocyanine/MWCNT and commercial Pt/C catalysts. The oxygen reduction reaction kinetics on these catalyst materials were evaluated using rotating disk electrodes in 0.1 M KOH solution and the current density values were consistently higher for Co phthalocyanine based electrodes compared to Fe phthalocyanine. The fuel cell performance of the MEAs with Co and Fe phthalocyanines and Tanaka Kikinzoku Kogyo Pt/C cathode catalysts were 100, 60 and 120 mW cm-2 using H22 and O2 gases. This thesis also includes work on synthesizing nitrogen doped MWCNTs using post-doping and In-Situ methods. Post-doped N-MWNCTs were prepared through heat treatment with NH4OH as nitrogen source. Characterization was done through fuel cell testing, which gave peak power density ~40mW.cm-2. For In-Situ N-MWCT, pyridine was used as nitrogen source. The sample characterization was done using Raman spectroscopy and RBS, which showed the presence ~3 at.% of nitrogen on the carbon surface.