RSC Adv. 2022 Aug 10;12(34):22070-22081. doi: 10.1039/d2ra03821h. eCollection 2022 Aug 4.
This study explores an aerosol-assisted method to prepare an efficient support for the Pt catalyst of polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs). Titania nanoparticles and mesoporous niobium-doped titania nanoparticles were prepared by aerosol-assisted self-assembly using titanium(iv) isopropoxide and niobium(v) ethoxide as the titanium and niobium sources for application as non-carbon supports for the platinum electrocatalyst. The structural characteristics and electrochemical properties of the supports were investigated by transmission electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction, Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, electron paramagnetic resonance, inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry, and dynamic light scattering. The Brunauer-Emmett-Teller method was used to calculate the specific surface areas of the samples, and the pore size distribution was also examined. The results demonstrated that under a radial concentration gradient, the aerosol droplets self-assembled into a spherical shape, and mesoporous supports were obtained after subsequent removal of the surfactant cetyltrimethylammonium bromide by annealing and washing. The hydrothermal technique was then used to deposit platinum on the TiO2-based supports. The electrical conductivity of the non-carbon support was enhanced by the strong metal-support interaction effect between the platinum catalyst particles and the porous niobium-doped TiO2 support. The half-wave potential, electrochemical surface area, mass activity, and specific activity of the obtained Pt/Nb-TiO2 catalyst all surpassed those of commercial Pt/C.