Metal-nitrogen-carbons (M-N-Cs) as a reliable substitution for platinum-group-metals (PGMs) for oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) are emerging candidates to rationalize the technology of fuel cells. The development of M-N-Cs can further be economized by consuming waste biomass as an inexpensive carbon source for the electrocatalyst support. Herein, we report the simple fabrication and in-depth characterization of electrocatalysts using lignin-derived activated char. The activated char (LAC) was functionalized with metal phthalocyanine (FePc and MnPc) via atmosphere-controlled pyrolysis to produce monometallic M-N-Cs (L_Mn and L_Fe) and bimetallic M1-M2-N-Cs (L_FeMn) electrocatalysts. Raman spectroscopy and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) revealed a defect-rich architecture. XPS confirmed the coexistence of various nitrogen-containing active moieties. L_Fe and L_FeMn demonstrated appreciable ORR in both acidic and alkaline conditions whereas L_FeMn helped in restricting the peroxide yield, particularly in alkaline media. L_Fe and L_FeMn demonstrated remarkable onset potential (Eonset) of ∼0.942 V (vs RHE) with an E1/2 of 0.874 V (vs RHE) in 0.1 M KOH. In acid, L_FeMn had an Eonset of 0.817 V (vs RHE) and an E1/2 of ∼0.76 V (vs RHE). Finally, the L_FeMn as a cathode electrocatalyst was integrated and tested in PEMFC and AEMFC. AEMFC demonstrated optimistic performance with a peak power density of 261 mW cm−2 at the current density of ∼577 mA cm−2.
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© 2022 Elsevier B.V.
- Anion exchange membrane fuel cell
- Lignin-derived char
- Oxygen reduction reaction
- Platinum group metal-free
- Proton exchange membrane fuel cell