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Improving the Durability of Methanol Oxidation Reaction Electro-Catalysts Through the Modification of Carbon Architectures

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Doctoral thesis

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Carbon materials represent one of the largest areas of studied research today, having integrated applications stretching from energy production and storage to medical use and far beyond. One of these many intriguing applications is fuel cells, which offers the promise of clean electricity through a direct electrochemical energy conversion process. unfortunately, at the present time the cost per watt-hour produced by fuel cells is more expensive than conventional methods of energy productionstorage i.e. combustion engines, batteries, etc.. Under the umbrella of fuel cell systems, methanol is a promising fuel source because of its high energy density and convenience of direct liquid fuel operation. In this field, recent advancements are bringing direct methanol fuel cells DMFCs closer to commercial viability. However, just as in other fuel cell systems, further improvements are greatly needed, particularly in the area of catalyst durability. This need for improved durability has led to increased research activity focused on improving catalyst stability and utilization. This thesis explores one of the most promising areas of enhancing catalyst-support interactions namely, modification of carbon support architectures. Through the use of heteroatom modifiers, such as nitrogen, fuel cell support systems can be enhanced in such a way as to improve metal nucleation and growth, catalyst durability and catalytic activity. To this end, this thesis employs advanced characterization techniques to study the changes in catalyst particle morphology before and after nitrogen modification of the support structure.

Subject Categories:

  • Physical Chemistry
  • Electrochemical Energy Storage
  • Solid State Physics

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