Preparation of a carbon supported Pt catalyst using an improved organic sol method and its electrocatalytic activity for methanol oxidation
The organic sol method for preparing ultrafine transition metal colloid particles reported for the first time by Bonnemann et al. [H. Bonnemann, W. Brijoux, R. Brinkmann, E. Dinjus, T. Jouβen, B. Korall, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. Engl., 30 (1991) 1312] has been improved in this paper. The improved organic sol method uses SnCl 2 as the reductant and methanol as the organic solvent. Thus, this method is very simple and inexpensive. It was found that the average size of the Pt particles in the Pt/C catalysts can be controlled by adjusting the evaporating temperature of the solvent. Therefore, the Pt/C catalysts prepared by the same method are suitable for evaluating the size effect of the Pt particles on electrocatalytic performance for methanol oxidation. The results of the X-ray diffraction (XRD) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) showed that when the evaporating temperatures of the solvent are 65, 60, 50, 40, and 30 °C, the average sizes of the Pt particles in the Pt/C catalysts prepared are: 2.2, 3.2, 3.8, 4.3, and 4.8 nm, respectively. The X-ray photoelectron spectroscopic (XPS) results demonstrated that the small Pt particles are easily oxidized and the decomposition/adsorption of methanol cannot proceed on the surfaces of Pt oxides. Thus, the Pt/C catalyst with small Pt particles has a low electrocatalytic activity for methanol oxidation. The Pt/C catalyst with a large average size of the Pt particles also possesses a small electrochemically active surface area. Therefore, only the Pt/C catalyst with a middle average size of Pt particles, such as 3.8 nm exhibited optimal electrocatalytic performance for methanol oxidation. Because the Pt/C catalysts with the different particle sizes were prepared with the same method, the size effect on the electrocatalytic performance of the catalysts could be reliably investigated.