Acta Phys. -Chim. Sin. ›› 2021, Vol. 37 ›› Issue (9): 2008031.doi: 10.3866/PKU.WHXB202008031

Special Issue: Fuel Cells

• ARTICLE • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Formic Acid Electro-Oxidation Catalyzed by PdNi/Graphene Aerogel

Yufei Bao, Ligang Feng()   

  • Received:2020-08-13 Accepted:2020-09-08 Published:2020-09-14
  • Contact: Ligang Feng
  • About author:Ligang Feng, Email:; Tel.: +86-17306299692
  • Supported by:
    the National Natural Science Foundation of China(21972124);the National Natural Science Foundation of China(21603041)


Direct formic acid fuel cells involve two significant half-reactions, namely formic acid electro-oxidation and oxygen reduction reaction, and the more sluggish and complex process for anode formic acid oxide also determine the whole fuel cells energy conversion efficiency. The most efficient catalysts rely on the noble metal of Pt and Pd based catalysts and compared with Pt catalysts, Pd catalyst is more appealing because of the low CO poisoning effect during the electro-oxidation of formic acid that mainly follows the direct pathway. The Pd alloy effect and support effect should be considered for the catalyst fabrication since the resulted structure and electronic modification could largely increase the catalytic performance. Graphene emerges out as novel support while the easy agglomeration and destruction of pure graphene do not guarantee promising merits. In this work, we demonstrated the formic acid oxidation ability boosting by facile coupling PdNi alloy and 3D graphene aerogel (PdNi/GA) via a freezing-drying/thermal annealing reduction approach. The PdNi alloy crystal structure was well confirmed by the X-ray diffractions technique and the alloy nanoparticles were successfully anchored on the 3D graphene aerogel surface. The electrochemical performance was evaluated for formic acid oxidation in the acid electrolyte. The PdNi/GA catalyst displayed a larger peak current density of 136 mA·cm-2, which was 2 and 3.45 times greater than Pd/GA (68 mA·cm-2) and Pd/C (39.4 mA·cm-2), respectively. The anti-CO poisoning ability was measured by CO stripping technique, and a low onset potential of 0.49 V was found on PdNi/GA catalyst, about 120 mV less than that of Pd/GA catalyst, indicating the oxophilic property of Ni to assist formic acid oxidation via the bi-functional mechanism. The oxidation peak potential of 0.67 V was observed on PdNi/GA, about 40 mV less than that of Pd/C catalyst, indicating the merits of 3D structure of graphene. Moreover, PdNi/GA catalyst had the highest mass activity of 1699 mA·mg-1 compared to Pd/GA (851 mA·mg-1) and Pd/C (537 mA·mg-1) catalysts. The specific activity of PdNi/GA was 2.6 mA·cm-2, which was 1.94 and 2.7 times of Pd/GA (1.34 mA·cm-2) and Pd/C (0.96 mA·cm-2) catalysts. The highly improved catalytic performance could be due to the combined alloy and support effect. The PdNi/GA was a promising catalyst for application in the direct formic acid fuel cells.

Key words: Formic acid oxidation reaction, Direct formic acid fuel cell, Electrocatalyst, Pd-base catalyst, Graphene aerogel


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