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New strategies in the development of fuel cell catalysts: advanced methods of synthesis and on line and in situ techniques in the study of catalytic activity


To increase the efficiency of electric energy production when alcohols are oxidized in a fuel cell, it is still necessary to improve the electrocatalysis of the reactions of oxidation of methanol and bioethanol and of reduction oxygen. At the same time, the tailoring of more efficient catalysts requires a deeper understanding of the influence that chemical, structural, and electronic properties of materials have on catalytic activity and reaction mechanisms. The approach proposed in this project aims to integrate those different aspects by combining new synthesis strategies with analytical and spectroscopic techniques to identify and quantify reaction products and intermediates. Thus, advanced synthesis methods, which allow controlling rigorously the properties that affect the catalytic activity (particle size, composition, etc.) will be used to prepare bimetallic and multi-metallic catalysts based on Pt and transition metals (Ru, Sn, Rh, Ni, and others). The catalysts' physicochemical properties will be evaluated by means of ex situ (x-ray diffraction, electronic transmission microscopy, x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, etc) and in situ (x-ray absorption spectroscopy) techniques. To contribute to the elucidation of the reaction mechanisms of methanol and ethanol oxidation, we propose to combine the evaluation of catalytic activity by electrochemical techniques with the measurement of reaction efficiency by quantifying intermediates and products by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Additional information will be obtained by in situ spectroelectrochemical studies (reflection/adsorption infrared spectroscopy). In the case of oxygen reduction, studies of catalytic activity and reaction mechanism will be carried out employing hydrodynamic techniques (rotating disk and ring-disk electrodes). (AU)

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Scientific publications
(References retrieved automatically from Web of Science and SciELO through information on FAPESP grants and their corresponding numbers as mentioned in the publications by the authors)
GODOI, DENIS R. M.; VILLULLAS, H. MERCEDES. Relevance of Electronic Effects on the Yield of CO2 from Methanol Oxidation. Langmuir, v. 28, n. 2, p. 1064-1067, . (11/06538-7, 06/60769-2)
GENTIL, R.; VILLULLAS, H. M.. Oxygen reduction activity and methanol tolerance of carbon-supported PtV nanoparticles and the effects of heat treatment at low temperatures. Journal of Solid State Electrochemistry, v. 20, n. 4, SI, p. 1119-1129, . (11/06538-7, 14/12255-6)
PIRES, F. I.; VILLULLAS, H. M.. Pd-based catalysts: Influence of the second metal on their stability and oxygen reduction activity. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF HYDROGEN ENERGY, v. 37, n. 22, p. 17052-17059, . (11/06538-7)

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