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A novel differential electrochemical mass spectrometry method to determine the product distribution from parasitic Methanol oxidation reaction on oxygen reduction reaction catalysts

: Jurzinsky, T.; Kurzhals, P.; Cremers, C.


Journal of power sources 389 (2018), S.61-69
ISSN: 0378-7753
ISSN: 1873-2755
Fraunhofer ICT ()

The oxygen reduction reaction is in research focus since several decades due to its importance for the overall fuel cell performance. In direct methanol fuel cells, the crossover of methanol and its subsequent parasitic oxidation are main issues when it comes to preventing fuel cell performance losses. In this work, we present a novel differential electrochemical mass spectrometry method to evaluate oxygen reduction reaction catalysts on their tolerance to methanol being present at the cathode. Besides this, the setup allows to measure under more realistic fuel cell conditions than typical rotating disc electrode measurements, because the oxygen reduction reaction is evaluated in gaseous phase and a gas diffusion electrode is used as working electrode. Due to the new method, it was possible to investigate the oxygen reduction reaction on two commonly used catalysts (Pt/C and Pt3Co/C) in absence and presence of methanol. It was found, that Pt3Co/C is less prone to parasitic current losses due to methanol oxidation reaction. By connecting a mass spectrometer to the electrochemical cell, the new method allows to determine the products formed on the catalysts due to parasitic methanol electrooxidation.