The hydroxide exchange membrane fuel cell (HEMFC) is a promising energy conversion technology but is limited by the need for platinum group metal (PGM) electrocatalysts, especially for the hydrogen oxidation reaction (HOR). Here we report a Ni-based HOR catalyst that exhibits an electrochemical surface area-normalized exchange current density of 70 μA cm–2, the highest among PGM-free catalysts. The catalyst comprises Ni nanoparticles embedded in a nitrogen-doped carbon support. According to X-ray and ultraviolet photoelectron spectroscopy as well as H2 chemisorption data, the electronic interaction between the Ni nanoparticles and the support leads to balanced hydrogen and hydroxide binding energies, which are the likely origin of the catalyst’s high activity. PGM-free HEMFCs employing this Ni-based HOR catalyst give a peak power density of 488 mW cm–2, up to 6.4 times higher than previous best-performing analogous HEMFCs. This work demonstrates the feasibility of efficient PGM-free HEMFCs.
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W.N. and X.H. acknowledge the financial support of EPFL; T.W. and Y.Y. acknowledge the financial support of the US Department of Energy, Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (award nos. DE-AR0000771, DE-AR0000805, DE-AR0001034 and DE-AR0001149); F.H. and J.S.L. acknowledge the financial support of the European Research Council under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (starting grant CATACOAT, no. 758653) as well as the Swiss National Science Foundation (grant no. PYAPP2_15428); S.L. acknowledges the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship (grant no. 838367). We thank P. A. Schouwink (EPFL) for assistance with XRD measurements.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Ni, W., Wang, T., Héroguel, F. et al. An efficient nickel hydrogen oxidation catalyst for hydroxide exchange membrane fuel cells. Nat. Mater. 21, 804–810 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41563-022-01221-5