Electrochemical stability of hexagonal tungsten carbide in the potential window of fuel cells and water electrolyzers investigated in a half-cell configuration

Göhl, D. and Mingers, A.M. and Geiger, S. and Schalenbach, M. and Cherevko, S. and Knossalla, J. and Jalalpoor, D. and Schüth, F. and Mayrhofer, K.J.J. and Ledendecker, M.

Volume: 270 Pages: 70-76
DOI: 10.1016/j.electacta.2018.02.129
Published: 2018

Tungsten carbide has attracted much interest as possible support for oxygen reduction and hydrogen oxidation in fuel cells and as catalyst itself for the hydrogen evolution reaction in water electrolyzers in the last years. Herein, we investigate the dissolution behavior of hexagonal tungsten carbide in acidic media with cyclovoltammetric and galvanostatic procedures under steady-state and dynamic conditions. The tungsten dissolution rate in the electrolyte was monitored in-situ and time resolved via coupling of the scanning flow cell with an inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (SFC-ICP-MS), allowing a direct correlation of potential and amount of dissolved species. The stability and passivation behavior of tungsten carbide was compared to pristine tungsten metal and its highest oxide WO3 in fuel cell/electrolyzer relevant potential ranges. It was found that partial passivation in the oxygen reduction region takes place, accompanied by steady dissolution of tungsten slightly above these potentials. In the HER/HOR region, no significant dissolution was observed. The dissolution rate of WC at high potentials was found to be in many cases almost one order of magnitude lower than for the pristine metal, yet two orders of magnitude higher than for its corresponding highest oxide. © 2018 Elsevier Ltd

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