Confined Electrocatalyst for Sustainable Energy Conversion
Maria del Carmen Gimenez a
a Center for Research in Biological Chemistry and Molecular Materials (CiQUS), University of Santiago de Compostela, Calle de Santiago de Compostela, Madrid, Spain
nanoGe Fall Meeting
Proceedings of Materials for Sustainable Development Conference (MAT-SUS) (NFM22)
#SusEnergy - Sustainable materials for energy storage and conversion
Barcelona, Spain, 2022 October 24th - 28th
Invited Speaker, Maria del Carmen Gimenez, presentation 250
Publication date: 11th July 2022

Electrocatalyst materials that drive fuels cells and other fossil fuel-free energy technologies have shown to play an important role on the production of clean and sustainable energy. However, those electrocatalysts containing precious metals, such as Pt, are currently hindered by their short-term durability. Recyclability and re-use of highly active nanocatalysts is still an outstanding global challenge of increasing importance in energy conversion and heterogeneous catalysis[1]. As these precious elements are rapidly diminishing, the research community is forced to urgently address this major issue until more abundant efficient electrocatalysts are put forward. In this respect, hollow carbon nanostructures can provide an excellent mean for the fabrication of highly durable electrocatalyst materials through nanocatalyst confinement [2-4], allowing their sustainable use in a whole variety of electrochemical processes. Thus, these hybrid nanocatalysts have shown performance comparable to commercial electrocatalysts (Pt/carbon black), but most importantly they exhibit outstanding durability, retaining most of the electrocatalytic activity even after 50,000 and 30,000 cycles of the ORR and HER, and thus significantly outperforming all existing electrocatalytic systems under these conditions. The observed behaviours are directly linked to interactions between the metal nanoparticles and the graphitic step-edges within the carbon nanoelectrodes. These surprising and remarkable properties of the reported hybrid electrocatalyst materials have opened up a new strategy for the sustainable use of precious metals in electrocatalysis and other technological applications that require stabilization of metal nanoparticles under harsh conditions (Figure 1).

This work has received financial support from the Ministry of Science of Spain (RYC-2016-20258, RTI2018-101097-A-100 and PID2021-127341OB-I00 for M.G-L), the European Research Council (ERC) (Starting Grant (NANOCOMP-679124, ZABCAT-966743) for M.G-L) and the Xunta de Galicia (ED431B 2021/13).

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