Electrochimica Acta, Vol.50, No.25-26, 5118-5125, 2005
How bimetallic electrocatalysts does work for reactions involved in fuel cells? Example of ethanol oxidation and comparison to methanol
Carbon-supported Pt-based nanosized electrocatalysts can be synthesized for methanol and ethanol electrooxidation. The electrocatalytic activity of Pt can be greatly enhanced by using Pt-Ru/C for methanol oxidation or Pt-Sn/C for ethanol oxidation. In situ IR reflectance spectroscopy is a convenient tool to better understand the importance of the different adsorption steps involved in the mechanisms of electrooxidation. With Pt/C, it appears clearly that linearly adsorbed CO is the poisoning species formed during methanol and ethanol oxidation. In the case of methanol, even with Pt-Ru/C (the most active catalyst), adsorbed CO is also a reactive intermediate. The enhancement of activity observed in such a case is due to the possibility to activate water at lower potentials in the presence of Ru. With Pt-Sn/C, the mechanism of the electrooxidation of ethanol is strongly modified. If at low potentials, poisoning with adsorbed CO still exists (as with Pt/C), the oxidation of ethanol at potentials greater than 0.4 V versus RHE occurs through an adsorbed acetyl species which can lead to the formation of acetaldehyde and acetic acid as final products in addition to carbon dioxide. (C) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.