Ultra-thin layer structured anodes for highly durable low-Pt direct formic acid fuel cells

Rongyue Wang, Jianguo Liu, Pan Liu, Xuanxuan Bi, Xiuling Yan, Wenxin Wang, Yifei Meng, Xingbo Ge, Mingwei Chen, Yi Ding

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    44 Citations (Scopus)


    Direct formic acid fuel cells (DFAFCs) allow highly efficient low temperature conversion of chemical energy into electricity and are expected to play a vital role in our future sustainable society. However, the massive precious metal usage in current membrane electrode assembly (MEA) technology greatly inhibits their actual applications. Here we demonstrate a new type of anode constructed by confining highly active nanoengineered catalysts into an ultra-thin catalyst layer with thickness around 100 nm. Specifically, an atomic layer of platinum is first deposited onto nanoporous gold (NPG) leaf to achieve high utilization of Pt and easy accessibility of both reactants and electrons to active sites. These NPG-Pt core/shell nanostructures are further decorated by a sub-monolayer of Bi to create highly active reaction sites for formic acid electro-oxidation. Thus obtained layer-structured NPG-Pt-Bi thin films allow a dramatic decrease in Pt usage down to 3 μg·cm−2, while maintaining very high electrode activity and power performance at sufficiently low overall precious metal loading. Moreover, these electrode materials show superior durability during half-year test in actual DFAFCs, with remarkable resistance to common impurities in formic acid, which together imply their great potential in applications in actual devices.

    [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1569-1580
    Number of pages12
    JournalNano Research
    Issue number11
    Publication statusPublished - 2014 Nov 21


    • core/shell structures
    • dealloying
    • direct formic acid fuel cells
    • low-Pt loading
    • nanoporous gold


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