Fuel Cell Technology: Reaching Towards Commercialization

Chapter 7: New Generation of Catalyst Layers for PEMFCs Based on Carbon Aerogel Supported Pt Catalyst (CASPC)

Alevtina Smirnova, Xing Dong, Hiro Hara, and Nigel M. Sammes

7.1 Introduction

The mass production of PEMFC power generators requires a price reduction and, thus, a decrease in the amount of noble metals present in the cathode and anode catalyst layers. Automotive, residential, military, and small scale applications require PEMFC stacks with a Pt-specific power density of at least 0.2 gPt/kW at cell voltages of about 0.65 V. However, existing PEMFC performance corresponds to approximately 0.85 1.1 g Pt/kW. Thus, at least a five-fold reduction of the amount of noble metal in the PEMFC catalyst layer is required for large scale manufacturing [1].

Developed over the past ten years, carbon aerogels are porous materials having a network structure of interconnected nanosized primary particles and in addition to a large surface area [2] include well-developed and controlled mesoporosity. Their tunable properties, such as surface area, pore volume, and pore size distribution, determined by the synthesis and processing conditions, allow for a wide spectrum of materials with unique properties and broad area of application, such as electrochemistry, fuel cells, catalysis, optics, and microelectronics [3], [4], [5], [6].

The carbon aerogel supported Pt catalyst (CASPC) structures differ significantly from those of presently available commercial catalysts produced by such companies as Tanaka, E-TEK, and Alfa Aesar. The carbon aerogel synthesized under supercritical conditions in the presence of CO 2, has a narrow pore size distribution and the size of the single pore that can be easily adjusted through...

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