This project aims to contribute to the development of new multifunctional catalysts to substitute Pt in the anodes of fuel cells that use ethanol as fuel. We propose to prepare catalysts containing Pd nanoparticles supported on oxide-carbon nanocomposites using different transition metal oxides and to evaluate their performances as catalysts for the oxidation of ethanol in alkaline medium. In order to avoid any influence of the support on the nucleation and growth processes, Pd nanoparticles will be prepared by a colloidal method and, subsequently, supported on composites containing TiO2, ZrO2, MoO3 or WO3. The approach proposed will allow carrying out comparative studies of the effects of the nanocomposite supports on the activity for ethanol oxidation while maintaining identical the properties of the Pd nanoparticles that provide the catalytic sites. The characterization of properties of Pd/oxide-carbon materials will be done employing several techniques (X-ray diffraction, transmission electron microscopy and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy). The catalytic performances will be evaluated by means of conventional electrochemical techniques (potential scans and chronoamperometry). Measurements will also involve the spectroscopic analysis of reaction products and intermediates aiming to assess the efficiency of the catalysts to promote the complete oxidation of ethanol. We expect that the results of these studies will allow elucidating the effects of metal-support interactions on ethanol electro-oxidation activity and reaction pathways in alkaline medium.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: