Nanostructured tubular carbon materials doped with cobalt as electrocatalyst for efficient oxygen reduction reaction


The development of non-precious metal catalysts with high efficiency and superior reaction durability for oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) is of great importance for construction of next-generation fuel cells. Herein, we report the preparation of in-situ nitrogen-doped carbon nanotube electrocatalysts (PPy-NCNTs) which were prepared by the pyrolysis of one-dimensional nanotube-like polypyrrole conjugated polymers precursor (PPy-Tubes) synthesized by oxidative polymerization and self-assembly method. The as-prepared PPy-NCNTs show good ORR performance, e.g., its half-wave potential reaches 0.826 V. In order to further improve the ORR performance of PPy-NCNTs, we prepared the Co-N co-doped carbon nanotube materials (Co-N-PPy-NCNTs) with different Co contents by adding cobalt nitrate into the polymerization solution during synthesis of PPy nanotube followed by a pyrolysis treatment. Comparatively, the Co-N-PPy-NCNTs have better ORR performance than that of PPy-NCNTs with a half-wave potential of 0.830 V, a biased 4e reaction pathway, and better stability and methanol tolerance (high than Pt/C catalysts in the methanol tolerance test and the durability test). Taking advantages of its simple and cost-efficient preparation, high ORR performance and superior stability and methanol tolerance, the Co-N-PPy-NCNTs should be a kind of ideal candidate as an alternative to the precious metal platinum-based catalysts for fuel cells.

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The authors are grateful to the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grants 51962018, 21975113, and 51663012), Project of Collaborative Innovation Team, Gansu Province, China (Grant 052005), Support Program for Hongliu Young Teachers of LUT, 2019 Key Talent Project of Gansu, and Innovation and Entrepreneurship Talent Project of Lanzhou (Grant 2017-RC-33).

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Correspondence to An Li.

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Zhu, Z., Han, J., Cui, J. et al. Nanostructured tubular carbon materials doped with cobalt as electrocatalyst for efficient oxygen reduction reaction. J Mater Sci 56, 8143–8158 (2021).

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