Electrochemical responses of novel preferentially oriented platinum (100) nanoalloys for ammonia and hydrazine catalysis
Mailu, Stephen Nzioki
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Ammonia has attracted attention as a possible fuel for direct fuel cells since it is easy to handle under low pressure, costs only slightly higher than methanol and can easily be cracked down into hydrogen and nitrogen. At low temperature, ammonia oxidation on noble metal electrodes is a sluggish reaction and efficient catalysts are required to convert ammonia to nitrogen and hydrogen at reasonable reaction rates. In this thesis, I present polycrystalline and oriented nanoalloys synthesised at room temperature in aqueous media and their catalytic effects on the oxidation of ammonia. The electro-oxidation of ammonia on palladium-goldsilver (PdAuAgNPs) ternary nanoalloys was systematically studied in alkaline solution of potassium hydroxide (KOH) by cyclic voltammetry (CV). The PdAuAg nanoalloys were prepared through a facile synthesis with ascorbic acid as a reductant and polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) as a stabilising agent from aqueous solutions of PdCh/HAuCI4.3H20/AgN03 mixtures. UV-visible spectroscopy was used to confirm the complete reduction of the metal ions; absorption peaks observed at 260 nm, 285 nm and 420 nm for Ag", Au3+ and Pd2+ ions respectively, disappeared after reduction indicating a complete reduction of the metal ions to zero-valent nanoparticles. High resolution transmission electron microscopy (HR TEM) revealed the formation of crystalline nonaggregated 25-35 nm sized nanoalloys. The elemental composition of the nanoalloys measured using energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX) showed the presence of the three elements; Pd, Au and Ag. The well-dispersed non-agglomerated PdAuAg nanoalloys exhibited a reduced overpotential and a 33%, 400%,82% and 54% increase in current density for ammonia electro-oxidation compared to Pd, PdAg, PdAu nanoparticles and bare Pt electrode, respectively. The much improved current density of the well-dispersed PdAuAg nanoalloys is attributed to the increased electrochemically active surface area of the nanoalloys. This electro catalytic behaviour of the PdAuAg nanoalloys for ammonia oxidation in KOH solutions provides a promising route for development of low-cost and high performance electro catalyst for electro-oxidation of ammoniaMoreover, ammonia oxidation on platinum surfaces has been found to be a very structure sensitive reaction which takes place almost exclusively on Pt(100) surfaces. I report for the first time the preparation of sodium polyacrylate-capped Pt(100)Pd, pte 1OO)Au, pte 1OO)Ir, Pt(IOO)Rh, Pt(100)PdAu, Pt(100)IrAu, Pt(IOO)PdIr and Pt(IOO)RhAu nanoalloys. The reduction of the metal ions to nanoparticles was confirmed by UV-visible spectroscopy while the shapes and the structures of the nanoparticles were studied using HRTEM and CV. HRTEM analysis showed well distributed non-agglomerated 5-20 nm semi-spherical and cubic nanoalloys with lattice fridges on their surfaces indicating the crystalline nature of the nanoalloys. Pt(100) nanoalloy systems showed particles with triangular and cubic shapes. The existence of the preferentially cubic shaped nanoparticles in the samples indicated that the nanoalloys had some (100) sites orientation/a significant amount of (100) sites at their surfaces. The CV of the nanoparticles in the hydrogen adsorption/desorption region (-200 mV to 100 mV vs. Ag! AgCl) was used to obtain qualitative information about the surface structure of the nanoparticles. The voltammogram of oriented Pt(100) nanoparticles showed very clearly the presence of adsorption states associated with (110) sites, (100) domains and (l00) sites at -131 mV, -34 mV and 29 mV, respectively. The companson of this voltammetric profile with that obtained for a Pt(100) single crystal electrode clearly points out that the synthesised Pt nanoparticles have a high density of (100) sites. However, the peak that was observed at 29 mV in the CV of Pt(100) nanoparticles was not present in the vo ltammo grams of the Pt(100) nanoalloy systems confirming the formation of the nanoalloys. The results reported in this work demonstrate the importance of controlling the intrinsic structural properties of Pt nanoparticles; in terms of nature of the active sites and the effect of adding adatoms (such as Au, Pd, Rh, Ir) in order to understand their catalytic properties. The electrochemical activities of these nanoparticles for ammonia oxidation in basic medium showed an increase of over 100% current density compared to Pt electrode. Pt(lOO)RhAu nanoalloys showed the highest catalytic properties while Pt(lOO)PdAu had the lowest as shown in the trend: Pt(lOO)RhAu > Pt(lOO)PdIr > Pt(lOO) > Pt(lOO)IrAu > Pt(lOO)Pd> Pt(lOO)Rh > Pt(lOO)Au > Pt(lOO)Ir > Pt(lOO)PdAu. The synthesised oriented nanoalloys were further interrogated towards the oxidation of hydrazine as a fuel for hydrazine fuel cells. The oriented Pt(lOO) nanoparticles and Pt(lOO) nanoalloy systems exhibited over 1000% increase in current density and reduced oxidation overpotential compared to bare glassy carbon electrode. These excellent catalytic properties are attributed to the increased surface area and the presence of (100) sites which favour the oxidation of hydrazine.