Progress in Developments of Inorganic Nanocatalysts for Application in Direct Methanol Fuel Cells

Suparna Das, Kingshuk Dutta, Yong G. Shul, Patit P. Kundu

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24 Scopus citations


Significant progress has been made in the last few years toward synthesizing highly dispersible inorganic catalysts for application in the electrodes of direct methanol fuel cells. In addition, research toward achieving an efficient catalyst supporting matrix has also attracted much attention in recent years. Carbon black- (Vulcan XC-72) supported Platinum and Platinum-Ruthenium catalysts have for long served as the conventional choice as the cathode and the anode catalyst materials, respectively. Oxygen reduction reaction at the cathode and methanol oxidation reaction at the anode occur simultaneously during the operation of a direct methanol fuel cell. However, inefficiencies in these reactions result in a generation of mixed potential. This, in turn, gives rise to reduced cell voltage, increased oxygen stoichiometric ratio, and generation of additional water that is responsible for water flooding in the cathode chamber. In addition, the lack of long-term stability of Pt-Ru anode catalyst, coupled with the tendency of Ru to cross through the polymer electrolyte membrane and eventually get deposited on the cathode, is also a serious drawback. Another source of potential concern is the fact that the natural resource of Pt and the rare earth metal Ru is very limited, and has been predicted to become exhausted very soon. To overcome these problems, new catalyst systems with high methanol tolerance and higher catalytic activity than Pt need to be developed. In addition, the catalyst-supporting matrix is also witnessing a change from traditionally used carbon powder to transition metal carbides and other high-performance materials. This article surveys the recent literature based on the advancements made in the field of highly dispersible inorganic catalysts for application in direct methanol fuel cells, as well as the progress made in the area of catalyst-supporting matrices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)316-357
Number of pages42
JournalCritical Reviews in Solid State and Materials Sciences
Issue number5
StatePublished - 3 Sep 2015
Externally publishedYes

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  • catalyst supports
  • direct methanol fuel cell
  • inorganic nanocatalysts
  • methanol oxidation reaction
  • oxygen reduction reaction


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