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Development of Platinum and Platinum-Nickel Catalysts for Fuel Cell Applications Open Access


Other title
direct alcohol fuel cell
glancing angle deposition
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Francis,Sonja A
Supervisor and department
Bergens, Steven (Chemistry)
Examining committee member and department
Brett, Michael (Electrical and Computer Engineering)
Mar, Arthur (Chemistry)
Veinot, Jonathan (Chemistry)
Easton, E. Bradley (Chemistry)
Department of Chemistry

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
This dissertation describes the use of a novel Pt deposition to prepare nickel- and carbon-supported platinum catalysts. The deposition is referred to herein as the platinum counter electrode deposition. The source of platinum is the sacrificial dissolution of a blacked platinum counter electrode under galvanostatic conditions that results in conformal, ultra-low loadings of platinum onto the substrates. It is shown that all or most of the platinum is located at the surface of the catalyst in the case where Pt is co-deposited with nickel from a solution of its salt. Furthermore, the deposition is self-limiting. Four major studies based on catalysts synthesized by this method are presented. The opening study describes the deposition of platinum and co-deposition of platinum and nickel onto nickel foam substrates as well as the electronic and microscopic characteristics of the deposits. Further, the activity of the prepared catalysts towards 2-propanol oxidation in base was explored. Above 500 mV, the nickel and platinum co-deposit on nickel foam was 9 times more active than blackened Pt gauze, while the platinum deposit on nickel foam was 38 times more active. The second study compares a conventional platinum deposition with the platinum counter electrode deposition on nickel nanopillar films prepared by Glancing Angle Deposition. The deposits prepared via our method were more active towards 2-propanol oxidation than both traditionally prepared deposits and commercially available state-of-the-art unsupported platinum nanoparticles. The same nanopillar-supported platinum catalysts were prepared on glassy carbon disks for the third study. Activity towards oxygen reduction in base and acid was investigated. This is the first oxygen reduction study on nickel-platinum glancing angle deposited structures and the first such study in basic media. The ultimate study describes the modification of the platinum counter electrode deposition to accommodate particulate substrates. As a proof of concept, we deposited platinum onto Vulcan carbon to fabricate a carbon-supported platinum catalyst that was microscopically and electrochemically characterized and tested for oxygen reduction. The results of this study suggest the utility of this deposition for a variety of particulate conductive substrates.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
Citation for previous publication
S.A. Francis, S.H. Bergens, J. Power Sources 196 (2011) 7470-7480S.A. Francis, R.T. Tucker, M.J. Brett, J. S.H. Bergens, J. Power Sources 222 (2013) 533-541

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