Journal of Materials Science

, Volume 54, Issue 17, pp 11618–11634 | Cite as

Electrocatalysts for oxygen reduction reaction based on electrospun polyacrylonitrile, styrene–acrylonitrile copolymer and carbon nanotube composite fibres

  • Marek Mooste
  • Elo Kibena-Põldsepp
  • Viktoria Vassiljeva
  • Maido Merisalu
  • Mati Kook
  • Alexey Treshchalov
  • Vambola Kisand
  • Mai Uibu
  • Andres Krumme
  • Väino Sammelselg
  • Kaido TammeveskiEmail author
Energy materials


In this work, polyacrylonitrile (PAN), styrene–acrylonitrile copolymer (SAN) and multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) composite fibres (PAN/SAN/CNT) were prepared by electrospinning. The electrospun fibres were further pyrolysed (800–1200 °C) in N2 atmosphere with or without prior stabilisation (at 250 °C) in air to produce electrocatalyst materials for oxygen reduction reaction (ORR). The ORR was studied in alkaline solution by linear sweep voltammetry and rotating disc electrode (RDE) method. Scanning electron microscopy images revealed the tubular structure of the pyrolysed PAN/SAN/CNT fibres with visible MWCNTs. According to the X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy results, the prepared catalysts consisted of carbon, oxygen and nitrogen. According to the RDE results, the most active catalyst towards the ORR (the onset and half-wave potential of − 0.13 V and −0.29 V vs SCE in 0.1 M KOH, respectively) was obtained by pyrolysing non-stabilised PAN/SAN/CNT fibres at 1100 °C. The ORR activity of the best performing catalyst is attributed to the nitrogen species, quinone groups and porous tubular structure of the catalyst material.



The present work was financially supported by institutional research funding (IUT20-16 and IUT2-24) of the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research and by the Estonian Research Council (INDIGO project). This research was also supported by the EU through the European Regional Development Fund (TK141, “Advanced materials and high-technology devices for energy recuperation systems”).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

10853_2019_3725_MOESM1_ESM.doc (6.3 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 6475 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of ChemistryUniversity of TartuTartuEstonia
  2. 2.Department of Materials and Environmental TechnologyTallinn University of TechnologyTallinnEstonia
  3. 3.Institute of PhysicsUniversity of TartuTartuEstonia

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