Lignin-derived bimetallic platinum group metal-free oxygen reduction reaction electrocatalysts for acid and alkaline fuel cells

Mohsin Muhyuddin, Ariel Friedman, Federico Poli, Elisabetta Petri, Hilah Honig, Francesco Basile, Andrea Fasolini, Roberto Lorenzi, Enrico Berretti, Marco Bellini, Alessandro Lavacchi, Lior Elbaz, Carlo Santoro, Francesca Soavi

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12 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish
Article number232416
JournalJournal of Power Sources
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2023

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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


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