Commercially available graphitized carbon nanofibers and multi-walled carbon nanotubes, two carbon materials with very different structure, have been functionalized in a nitric–sulfuric acid mixture. Further on, the materials have been platinized by a microwave assisted polyol method. The relative degree of graphitization has been estimated by means of Raman spectroscopy and X-ray diffraction while the relative concentration of oxygen containing groups has been estimated by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, which resulted in a graphitic character trend: Pt/GNF > Pt/F-GNF ⋙ Pt/MWCNT > Pt/F-MWCNT. Transmission electron microscopy showed that the Pt particle size is around 3 nm for all samples, which was similar to the crystallite size obtained by X-ray diffraction. The activity towards electrochemical reduction of oxygen has been quantified using the thin-film rotating disk electrode, which has shown that all the samples have a better activity than the commercially available electrocatalysts. The trend obtained for the graphitic character maintained for the electrochemical activity, while the reverse trend has been obtained for the accelerated ageing test. Long-term potential cycling has demonstrated that the functionalization improves the stability for multi-walled carbon nanotubes, at the cost of decreased activity.
International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, 2014, Vol 39, Issue 16, p. 8215-8224