Nanostructured tungsten carbide catalysts for polymer electrolyte fuel cells

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Abstract

In this study, high current densities (i.e., 0.9 A cm2) have been obtained in a hydrogenair polymer electrolyte fuel cell using nanoscale tungsten carbide as the anode catalyst and carbon supported platinum as the cathode catalyst under normal operating conditions of 80 °C and 3 atm. These results show a possibility of replacing precious metal anode catalysts with transition metal compounds for hydrogen oxidation, thereby creating a fundamental technology to reduce the cost of future fuel cell engines. The tungsten carbide-based catalysts were synthesized by means of chemically reduced mechanical alloying. The high electrocatalytic activity toward hydrogen oxidation reaction is attributed to the inherent W-C valence and the unique nanostructure of synthesized carbides. These properties were confirmed by x-ray diffraction and transmission electron microscopy.

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