Advancing direct ethanol fuel cell operation at intermediate temperature by combining Nafion-hybrid electrolyte and well-alloyed PtSn/C electrocatalyst
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The advancement of direct ethanol fuel cell (DEFC) represents a real challenge to electrochemical science because ethanol changes significantly the triple phase boundary properties such as the redox reactions and the proton transport. Ethanol molecules promote poor fuel cell performance due to their slow oxidation rate, reduction of the proton transport due to high affinity of ethanol by the membrane, and due to mixed potential when the ethanol molecules reach the cathode by crossover. DEFC performance has been improved by advances in the membranes, e.g., low ethanol crossover polymer composites, or electrode materials, e.g., binary/ternary catalysts. Herein, high temperature (130 °C) DEFC tests were systematically investigated by using optimized electrode and electrolyte materials: Nafion-SiO2 hybrid electrolyte and well-alloyed PtSn/C electrocatalyst. By optimizing both the electrode and the electrolyte in conjunction, DEFCs operating at 130 °C exhibited a threefold increase on performance as compared to standard commercially available materials.