Carbon Nanofiber Growth Optimization for Their Use as Electrocatalyst Support in Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) Fuel Cells

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Carbon nanofiber (CNF) growth by catalytic decomposition of methane in a fixed-bed reactor was studied out to elucidate the influence of some important reaction conditions: temperature, space velocity and reactant partial pressure, in the morphological properties of the carbonaceous material obtained. The main objective is to synthesize a suitable carbonaceous nanomaterial to be used as support in platinum based electrocatalysts for Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells (PEMFC) which improves current carbon blacks. High specific surface area is required in an electrocatalyst support since platinum dispersion is enhanced and so a cost-effective usage and high catalytic activity. Good electrical conductivity of carbon support is also required since the fuel cell power density is improved. With this proposal, characterization was carried out by nitrogen physisorption, XRD, SEM and TPO. The results were analysed by a factorial design and analysis of variance (ANOVA) in order to find an empirical correlation between operating conditions and CNF characteristics. It was found that the highest specific surface area and pore volume were found at 823 K and at a space velocity of 10 L gcat−1 h−1. The graphitic character of CNF, which is known to influence the electrical conductivity, presented a maximum value at temperatures between 923 K and 973 K. SEM images showed a narrow size distribution of CNF diameter between 40 and 90 nm and homogeneous appearance.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: July 1, 2009

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  • Journal for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (JNN) is an international and multidisciplinary peer-reviewed journal with a wide-ranging coverage, consolidating research activities in all areas of nanoscience and nanotechnology into a single and unique reference source. JNN is the first cross-disciplinary journal to publish original full research articles, rapid communications of important new scientific and technological findings, timely state-of-the-art reviews with author's photo and short biography, and current research news encompassing the fundamental and applied research in all disciplines of science, engineering and medicine.
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