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Sci Rep. 2015 Mar 2;5:8376. doi: 10.1038/srep08376.

Facile and gram-scale synthesis of metal-free catalysts: toward realistic applications for fuel cells.

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Department of Science, Republic of Korea Naval Academy, Jinhae-gu, Changwon 646-797, South Korea.
Department of Chemical Engineering, Kangwon National University, Samcheok 245-711, South Korea.
1] Center for Nanoparticle Research, Institute for Basic Science (IBS), Seoul 151-742, South Korea [2] School of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Seoul National University, Seoul 151-742, South Korea.
School of Advanced Materials Engineering, Kookmin University, Seoul 136-702, South Korea.


Although numerous reports on nonprecious metal catalysts for replacing expensive Pt-based catalysts have been published, few of these studies have demonstrated their practical application in fuel cells. In this work, we report graphitic carbon nitride and carbon nanofiber hybrid materials synthesized by a facile and gram-scale method via liquid-based reactions, without the use of toxic materials or a high pressure-high temperature reactor, for use as fuel cell cathodes. The resulting materials exhibited remarkable methanol tolerance, selectivity, and stability even without a metal dopant. Furthermore, these completely metal-free catalysts exhibited outstanding performance as cathode materials in an actual fuel cell device: a membrane electrode assembly with both acidic and alkaline polymer electrolytes. The fabrication method and remarkable performance of the single cell produced in this study represent progressive steps toward the realistic application of metal-free cathode electrocatalysts in fuel cells.

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