The oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) is still the most research-intensive aspect of a fuel cell. The sluggish kinetics of the electrocatalysts toward the ORR requires large amounts of platinum to be used as cathode material, which calls for alternatives to replace or minimize the amount of the noble metals used. This study describes the synthesis and complete characterization of a copper metallopolymer (Cu MP) based on a conducting polymer (CP) and single-site catalytic centers for the electrocatalytic ORR. The copper (II) catalyst, embedded in a redox-active and conducting polymeric environment, was pursued as a potential candidate to replace noble metals in fuel cell applications. Performance studies at a rotating disk electrode (RDE) showed that the metallopolymer exhibited a direct four-electron reduction at potentials between -150 and -350 mV vs. the reversible hydrogen electrode (RHE) and high kinetic current densities of over 22.62 mA/cm2. The kinetic current densities obtained at the Cu MP electrode outperformed most of the reported state-of-the art electro-catalysts toward the ORR. Further analysis of the Cu/CP hybrid revealed the copper being largely reduced to the oxidation state +I.
Bibliographical note© 2018 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
- oxygen reduction reaction
- kinetic current density
- fuel cells