Electrocatalytic oxidation of 2-propanol on PtxIr100-x bifunctional electrocatalysts – A thin-film materials library study

Kormányos, A. and Savan, A. and Ludwig, Al. and Speck, F.D. and Mayrhofer, K.J.J. and Cherevko, S.

Volume: 396 Pages: 387-394
DOI: 10.1016/j.jcat.2021.02.021
Published: 2021

Due to the high demand for renewable and infrastructure compatible energy conversion and storage technologies, research on organic fuel cells receives increasing interest again recently. Organic fuels such as alcohols provide an attractive avenue to overcome the drawbacks of hydrogen as an energy carrier. Particularly interesting are secondary alcohols that almost exclusively form ketones as the final oxidation product, as they can be utilized in “zero emission” concepts without CO2 as a by-product. The state-of-the-art electrocatalyst in secondary alcohol oxidation is Pt-Ru, which demonstrates low onset potentials for the oxidation of the most facile secondary alcohol isopropanol. Yet, the achievable current densities are still relatively low and decrease rapidly due to the formed product acetone, which can poison the catalyst surface over time. Therefore, there is an inevitable need for the development of novel electrocatalyst materials circumventing these challenges. In this study, we employ a high-throughput electrochemical approach coupled to on-line inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometry to map the composition-dependent activity and stability of PtxIr100-x alloy electrocatalysts toward the electro-oxidation of isopropanol. The activity and stability of magnetron sputtered PtxIr100-x material libraries are studied in 0.1 M HClO4 both in the absence and presence of isopropanol. The highest current densities are achieved for the sample containing the least amount of Ir (3.4 at.%), with a continuous decrease with the increasing amount of Ir. The alloys are inactive towards the oxidation of isopropanol when the amount of Ir exceeded 80 at%. The presence of isopropanol also has a notable effect on stability: while dissolution rates do not change in the case of pure Pt and Ir, a significant increase in stability is observed for the PtxIr100-x thin-film samples at all applied upper potential limits. This is explained by the strong adsorption of acetone on the surface of the catalyst that inhibits the formation of surface oxides. © 2021 Elsevier Inc.

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