Reduced Graphene Oxide-Supported Nickel(II)-Bis(1,10-Phenanthroline) Complex as a Highly Active Electrocatalyst for Ethanol Oxidation Reaction

  • José R. N. Santos
  • Deracilde S. S. Viégas
  • Ismael Carlos B. Alves
  • Alex D. Rabelo
  • Wendell M. Costa
  • Edmar P. Marques
  • Lei Zhang
  • Jiujun Zhang
  • Aldaléa L. B. MarquesEmail author
Original Research


The reduced graphene oxide (rGO) is used to support nickel(II)-bis(1,10-phenanthroline) complex (Ni(II)(Phen)2), forming a catalyst Ni(II)(Phen)2/rGO for ethanol oxidation reaction (EOR). A pyrolytic graphite electrode modified by this catalyst shows excellent electrocatalytic EOR activity, characterized by physical and electrochemical methods. The electrocatalytic activity of the material was evaluated by cyclic voltammetry, chronoamperometry, and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS). The significant increase in EOR currents compared to the electrode modified with only (Ni(II)(Phen)2 complex demonstrates the promotion role of the rGO. It is believed that the interaction between Ni(II)(Phen)2 and rGO to create a synergistic effect of Ni(II)(Phen)2/rGO catalyst should be responsible for the observed enhancement of the catalytic EOR performance. Using the Laviron theory, the charge transfer rate constant (ks) and the electron transfer coefficient (α) of the electrode reaction are calculated to be 0.60 s−1 and 0.61, respectively. Both the effects of OH and ethanol concentration on the catalyst EOR activity are also studied to obtain the diffusion coefficient of ethanol (D = 4.7 × 10−6 cm2 s−1) and the catalytic rate constant (kcat = 1.26 × 107 cm3 mol−1 s−1). Based on the experimental results, an EOR mechanism catalyzed by Ni(II)(Phen)2/rGO is proposed. The catalytic EOR peak currents exhibit a linear growth (behavior) with increasing ethanol concentration, suggesting the possible use of this catalyst material as a sensor for ethanol analysis. In addition, the obtained chronoamperometric curves confirm the stability of the catalyst. It is believed that this Ni(II)(Phen)2/rGO catalyst is a promising cost-effective alternative for ethanol oxidation reaction in direct ethanol fuel cells.

Graphical Abstract

Electrocatalytical oxidation of ethanol catalyzed by a rGO-supported Ni(II)(Phen)2 catalyst-modified pyrolytic graphite electrode


Ethanol oxidation Nickel-phenanthroline complex Electrocatalysis Reduced graphene oxide Direct ethanol fuel cell 



The authors are grateful to CNPq (PQ 2017, Proc. 310664/2017-9), FINEP (Research Project RECOL 05/Subproject NANOPET), ANP (Research Project PMQC/BIOPETRO, No. 1.029/2016-ANP-007.639), and CAPES for the financial support and fellowships received.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • José R. N. Santos
    • 1
  • Deracilde S. S. Viégas
    • 1
  • Ismael Carlos B. Alves
    • 1
  • Alex D. Rabelo
    • 1
  • Wendell M. Costa
    • 1
  • Edmar P. Marques
    • 2
  • Lei Zhang
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
  • Jiujun Zhang
    • 1
    • 3
  • Aldaléa L. B. Marques
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Chemical Technology (NEPE: LPQA & LAPQAP)Federal University of Maranhão (UFMA)São LuisBrazil
  2. 2.Department of ChemistryFederal University of Maranhão (UFMA)São LuisBrazil
  3. 3.Institute for Sustainable Energy/College of SciencesShanghai UniversityShanghaiChina
  4. 4.Energy, Mining & EnvironmentNational Research Council of CanadaVancouverCanada

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