Nanostructured carbon-based materials for electrochemical applications
Jones, Allison J.
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Mesoporous carbons have been widely studied due to the relevance of these materials for applications in energy storage and conversion devices (batteries, supercapacitors, and fuel cells), mainly due to their high surface area, tunable pore distribution, and good electrical conductivity. Though carbon is chemically stable, mesoporous carbons used in fuel cells are susceptible to corrosion when exposed to high positive overpotential in acid media that result in dissolution and agglomeration of valuable noble catalyst nanoparticles. In this thesis, high-surface-area mesoporous carbons (~ 600 to 1000 cm2/g) were obtained by carbonization of resorcinol formaldehyde (RF) polymer gels; using poly-diallyl methylammonium chloride and SiO2 (~200 nm diameter) as soft- and hard-template, respectively, to tailor the textural properties of the carbon products. Accelerated ageing tests on platinized samples prepared with mesoporous carbons exposed to different annealing treatments showed a significant improvement in stability after annealing for two hours at 1500oC, over performing an in-house prepared Pt/ Vulcan carbon reference sample. The deposition of TiO2 on carbon was also intended to improve the catalyst/substrate stability at lower annealing temperatures, some preliminary results are also presented in the thesis. Overall, the thesis has contributed to the implementation of a flexible methodology for the synthesis of organic polymer gels and carbon gels, that it is expected will contribute to the development of novel heteroatom-doped carbons and non-precious metal catalyst materials for renewable energy, photo- and electrocatalysis, sensors, environmental remediation, and waste treatment.