4.8 Review

Carbon as catalyst and support for electrochemical energy conversion


Volume 75, Issue -, Pages 5-42


DOI: 10.1016/j.carbon.2014.04.005




  1. German Research Foundation (DFG) under the Priority Program 1613 Regeneratively formed fuels by water splitting [STR 596/3-1]
  2. Federal Ministry of Education and Research - Sino German TU9 network for electromobility [16N11929]
  3. Federal Ministry of Education and Research [03SF0433A]
  4. Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council [EP/K038656/1] Funding Source: researchfish
  5. EPSRC [EP/K038656/1] Funding Source: UKRI

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Carbon has unique characteristics that make it an ideal material for use in a wide variety of electrochemical applications ranging from metal refining to electrocatalysis and fuel cells. In polymer electrolyte fuel cells (PEFCs), carbon is used as a gas diffusion layer, electrocatalyst support and oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) electrocatalyst. When used as electrocatalyst support, amorphous carbonaceous materials suffer from enhanced oxidation rates at high potentials over time. This drawback has prompted an extensive effort to improve the properties of amorphous carbon and to identify alternate carbon-based materials to replace carbon blacks. Alternate support materials are classified in carbon nanotubes and fibers, mesoporous carbon, multi-layer graphene (undoped and doped with metal nanoparticles) and reduced graphene oxide. A comparative review of all these supports is provided. Work on catalytically active carbon hybrids is focused on the development of non-precious metal electrocatalysts that will significantly reduce the cost without sacrificing catalytic activity. Of the newer electrocatalysts, nitrogen/metal-functionalized carbons and composites are emerging as possible contenders for commercial PEFCs. Nitrogen-doped carbon hybrids with transition metals and their polymer composites exhibit high ORR activity and selectivity and these catalytic properties are presented in detail in this review. (C) 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


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