Open Access Nano Idea

Cobalt/copper-decorated carbon nanofibers as novel non-precious electrocatalyst for methanol electrooxidation

Nasser A M Barakat12*, Mohamed El-Newehy34, Salem S Al-Deyab3 and Hak Yong Kim1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Organic Materials and Fiber Engineering, College of Engineering, Chonbuk National University, Jeonju 561-756, South Korea

2 Chemical Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering, Minia University, El Minia 61111, Egypt

3 Petrochemical Research Chair, Department of Chemistry, College of Science, King Saud University, Riyadh 11451, Saudi Arabia

4 Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, Tanta University, Tanta 31527, Egypt

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2014, 9:2  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-9-2

Published: 3 January 2014

Abstract

In this study, Co/Cu-decorated carbon nanofibers are introduced as novel electrocatalyst for methanol oxidation. The introduced nanofibers have been prepared based on graphitization of poly(vinyl alcohol) which has high carbon content compared to many polymer precursors for carbon nanofiber synthesis. Typically, calcination in argon atmosphere of electrospun nanofibers composed of cobalt acetate tetrahydrate, copper acetate monohydrate, and poly(vinyl alcohol) leads to form carbon nanofibers decorated by CoCu nanoparticles. The graphitization of the poly(vinyl alcohol) has been enhanced due to presence of cobalt which acts as effective catalyst. The physicochemical characterization affirmed that the metallic nanoparticles are sheathed by thin crystalline graphite layer. Investigation of the electrocatalytic activity of the introduced nanofibers toward methanol oxidation indicates good performance, as the corresponding onset potential was small compared to many reported materials; 310 mV (vs. Ag/AgCl electrode) and a current density of 12 mA/cm2 was obtained. Moreover, due to the graphite shield, good stability was observed. Overall, the introduced study opens new avenue for cheap and stable transition metals-based nanostructures as non-precious catalysts for fuel cell applications.

Keywords:
Non-precious catalyst; Electrospinning; Fuel cells; Decorated carbon nanofibers; Methanol electrooxidation