Direct formic acid fuel cell (DFAFC) is considered to be a promising power source for portable electronic devices. Compared to direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC), the storage of formic acid is much easier and safer and the efficiency can also be higher. But DFAFC also has its own problem. The activity and stability of palladium, which is considered as the state-of-art anode catalyst of DFAFC, still needs to be improved for commercialization.
A research team led by Prof. XING Wei from Changchun Institute of Applied Chemistry, collaborated with another research team from the Institute of Chemical Sciences and Engineering, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL), developed a method may solve this problem. They found that using nickel phosphide (Ni2P) nanoparticles as a co-catalyst can significantly enhance the activity and stability of palladium for formic acid oxidation. They report that a direct formic acid fuel cell incorporating the best Pd–Ni2P anode catalyst exhibits a power density of 550 mW cm-2, which is 3.5 times of that of an analogous device using a commercial Pd anode catalyst.
This Pd–Ni2P anode catalyst can be successfully integrated into a direct formic acid fuel cell and show superior performance to a state-of-the-art Pd/C catalyst.The researchers believe that increasing the activity of Pd can lead to a lower usage of this rare and costly metal. It is a significant step towards the development of more active and practical catalysts for DFAFC.
The research results have been published in Angew. Chem. Int. Ed, 2014, 53, 122-126. The work in CAS is supported by the National Basic Research Program of China (973 Program, 2012CB215500, 2012CB932800), the National High Technology Research and Development Program of China (863 Program, 2012AA053401), the Recruitment Program of Foreign Experts (WQ20122200077), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (20933004, 21073180) and the Strategic priority research program of CAS (XDA0903104). The work at EPFL is supported by a grant from the Competence Center for Energy and Mobility (CCEM) in the framework of the Hytech project.