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Recent Advances in Non-precious Metal Electrocatalysts for Oxygen Reduction in PEM Fuel Cells

Polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEMFC) are electrical power generators for a wide range of possible applications, but are still considered too expensive for many. To reduce their cost, much research has focused on replacing the expensive Pt-based electrocatalysts in PEMFCs with a lower-cost alternative. Fe-based cathode catalysts are a promising alternative. To compete with Pt-based cathode catalysts, non-precious metal catalysts must meet three key criteria: have high catalytic activity, allow for high power density at meaningful cell voltages and have adequate operational stability/durability. Over the last three years our research group at INRS-EMT has made significant progress in achieving these criteria including a cathode catalyst with a power density of 0.75W cm−2 at 0.6V under H2/O2, a meaningful voltage for PEMFC operation, comparable with that of a commercial Pt-based cathode tested under identical conditions.

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