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Nickel–molybdenum–niobium metallic glass for efficient hydrogen oxidation in hydroxide exchange membrane fuel cells

Abstract

The cost of fuel cell systems can be largely reduced by developing hydroxide exchange membrane fuel cells (HEMFCs) based on platinum group metal-free (PGM-free) catalysts. However, the sluggish hydrogen oxidation reaction (HOR) in alkaline electrolytes forces HEMFCs to use higher PGM loadings at the anode than proton exchange membrane fuel cells to sustain the desired power densities. Here we report nickel–molybdenum–niobium metallic glasses as PGM-free HOR catalysts. The optimal Ni52Mo13Nb35 metallic glass exhibits an intrinsic exchange current density of 0.35 mA cm−2, outperforming that of a Pt disk catalyst (0.30 mA cm−2). This catalyst also shows remarkable robustness in alkaline electrolyte with a wide stability window up to 0.8 V versus the reversible hydrogen electrode. When used as the anode, this catalyst enables power densities of 390 mW cm−2 in H2/O2 fuel cells and 253 mW cm−2 in H2/air fuel cells, and shows negligible performance degradation over 50 h and 30 h, respectively.

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Fig. 1: Synthesis and characterization of Ni–Mo–Nb MGs.
Fig. 2: Catalyst performances in the HOR.
Fig. 3: Structural analysis of the Ni–Mo–Nb MGs.
Fig. 4: Stability assessments.
Fig. 5: Fuel cell performances of the Ni52Mo13Nb35 MG.

Data availability

The data that support the findings of this study are presented in the article and Supplementary Information. Source data are provided with this paper. Any other relevant data are also available from the corresponding authors upon reasonable request.

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Acknowledgements

We thank S. L. Chen at Wuhan University for many helpful discussions. This work was supported by the National Basic Research Program of China (grant no. 2018YFA0702001), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant nos. 22225901, 22175162, 21975237, 21521001, 21431006, 21225315, 21321002, 91645202 and 51871120), the Chinese Academy of Sciences (grant nos. KGZD-EW-T05 and XDA090301001), the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (grant no. XDA21000000), the Anhui Provincial Research and Development Program (grant no. 202004a05020073), the USTC Research Funds of the Double First-Class Initiative (grant no. YD2340002007), the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (grant nos. WK9990000101, 30919011107 and 30919011404), the Natural Science Foundation of Jiangsu Province (grant no. BK20200019), the National Key R&D Program of China (grant no. 2021YFB3802800) and Guangdong–Hong Kong–Macao Joint Laboratory for Neutron Scattering Science and Technology. This research used the resources of the Advanced Photon Source, a US Department of Energy (DOE), Office of Science User Facility operated for the DOE Office of Science by Argonne National Laboratory under contract no. DE-AC02-06CH11357.

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Contributions

M.-R.G. and S.L. conceived the idea and directed the project. S.-H.Y. and Y.Y. advised on the research and contributed to the scientific interpretation. F.-Y.G., S.-N.L. and J.-C.G. fabricated the metallic glasses and collected and analysed the data. X.-L.Z., L.Z., Z.-G.D. and W.L. performed the DFT calculations. Y.-R.Z. and Y.D. carried out the XRD measurements. W.D. performed the DMA measurements. R.-C.B. and X.Y. assisted with the electrochemical measurements. S.Q., Z.-Z.N. and P.-P.Y. assisted with the structure analyses. F.-Y.G., S.-N.L., J.-C.G., S.L. and M.-R.G. wrote and edited the manuscript. All authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Si Lan or Min-Rui Gao.

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Nature Catalysis thanks Hamish Miller, Jan Schroers and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Supplementary Discussion, Figs. 1–51 and Tables 1–5.

Supplementary Data

Atomic coordinates of the simulated Ni52Mo13Nb35 models.

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Source Data Fig. 4

The data used to plot the figures.

Source Data Fig. 5

The data used to plot the figures.

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Gao, FY., Liu, SN., Ge, JC. et al. Nickel–molybdenum–niobium metallic glass for efficient hydrogen oxidation in hydroxide exchange membrane fuel cells. Nat Catal 5, 993–1005 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41929-022-00862-8

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