Title page for ETD etd-03192012-180033

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Gordon, Ashley Rebecca
Author's Email Address ashes@vt.edu
URN etd-03192012-180033
Title Evaluation of TiO2 as a Pt-Catalyst Support in a Direct Ethanol Fuel Cell
Degree Master of Science
Department Mechanical Engineering
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Ellis, Michael W. Committee Chair
Dillard, David A. Committee Member
Nelson, Douglas J. Committee Member
  • potentiostatic hold
  • power density
  • OCV
  • polarization curves
  • electrochemical analysis
  • cyclic voltammetry
  • ethanol oxidation
Date of Defense 2012-03-12
Availability unrestricted
Direct ethanol fuel cells are of interest due to the high energy density, ease of distribution and handling, and low toxicity of ethanol. Difficulties lie in finding a catalyst that can completely oxidize ethanol and resist poisoning by intermediate reaction species. Degradation of the catalyst layer over time is also an issue that needs to be addressed. In this work, niobium doped-titanium dioxide (Nb-TiO2) is investigated as a platinum (Pt) support due to its increased resistance to corrosion compared to the common catalyst support, carbon. It has also been seen in the literature that TiO2 is able to adsorb OH and assist in freeing Pt sites by further oxidizing COad to CO2 and thereby increasing the catalytic activity of catalysts toward ethanol oxidation. The TiO2 support is mixed with carbon, forming Nb-TiO2-C, in order to increase the conductivity throughout the support. The electrochemical activity and direct ethanol fuel cell (DEFC) performance of this novel catalyst is investigated and compared to that of two common catalysts, carbon supported Pt (Pt/C) and carbon supported platinum-tin (PtSn/C). While the conductivity of the Pt/Nb-TiO2-C electrodes was low compared to that of the carbon supported electrodes, the overall catalytic activity and performance of the TiO2 supported catalyst was comparable to that of the Pt/C catalyst based on the electrochemically active surface area.
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