A robust catalyst support is pivotal to Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells (PEMFCs) to overcome challenges such as catalyst support corrosion, low catalyst utilization and overall capital cost. SiC is a promising candidate material which could be applied as a catalyst support in PEMFCs. SiC nanocrystals are here synthesized using nano-porous carbon black (Vulcan XC-72) as a template using two different reactions, which result in particle sizes in the ranges of 50-150 nm (SiC-SPR) and 25-35 nm (SiC-NS). Pt nano-catalysts of size 5-8 nm and 4-5 nm have successfully been uniformly deposited on the nanocrystals of SiC-SPR and SiC-NS by the polyol method. The SiC substrates are subjected to an acid treatment to introduce the surface groups, which help to anchor the Pt nano-catalysts. These SiC based catalysts have been found to have a higher electrochemical activity than commercially available Vulcan based catalysts (BASF & HISPEC). These promising results signal a new era of SiC based catalysts for fuel cell applications.
Journal of Materials Chemistry a, 2013, Vol 1, Issue 19, p. 6030-6036