Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, 2013, vol 15, 10, pp. 3602-3608
A colloidal synthesis approach is presented that allows systematic studies of the properties of supported proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) catalysts. The applied synthesis route is based on the preparation of monodisperse nanoparticles in the absence of strong binding organic stabilizing agents. No temperature post-treatment of the catalyst is required rendering the synthesis route ideally suitable for comparative studies. We report work concerning a series of catalysts based on the same colloidal Pt nanoparticle (NP) suspension, but with different high surface area (HSA) carbon supports. It is shown that for the prepared catalysts the carbon support has no catalytic co-function, but carbon pre-treatment leads to enhanced sticking of the Pt NPs on the support. An unwanted side effect, however, is NP agglomeration during synthesis. By contrast, enhanced NP sticking without agglomeration can be accomplished by the addition of an ionomer to the NP suspension. The catalytic activity of the prepared catalysts for the oxygen reduction reaction is comparable to industrial catalysts and no influence of the particle size is found in the range of 2–5 nm.