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Sci Rep. 2014 Aug 11;4:6013. doi: 10.1038/srep06013.

Emerging methanol-tolerant AlN nanowire oxygen reduction electrocatalyst for alkaline direct methanol fuel cell.

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  • 1Beijing Univ Posts &Telecommun, State Key Lab Informat Photon &Opt Commun, Beijing 100876, Peoples R China.
  • 2Chinese Acad Sci, Inst Phys, Beijing Natl Lab Condensed Matter Phys, Beijing 100190, Peoples R China.
  • 3State Key Laboratory of Advanced Technology for Materials Synthesis and Processing, Wuhan University of Technology, Wuhan 430070, PR China.


Replacing precious and nondurable Pt catalysts with cheap materials is a key issue for commercialization of fuel cells. In the case of oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) catalysts for direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC), the methanol tolerance is also an important concern. Here, we develop AlN nanowires with diameters of about 100-150 nm and the length up to 1 mm through crystal growth method. We find it is electrochemically stable in methanol-contained alkaline electrolyte. This novel material exhibits pronounced electrocatalytic activity with exchange current density of about 6.52 × 10(-8) A/cm(2). The single cell assembled with AlN nanowire cathodic electrode achieves a power density of 18.9 mW cm(-2). After being maintained at 100 mA cm(-2) for 48 h, the AlN nanowire-based single cell keeps 92.1% of the initial performance, which is in comparison with 54.5% for that assembled with Pt/C cathode. This discovery reveals a new type of metal nitride ORR catalyst that can be cheaply produced from crystal growth method.

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