We are developing a low temperature plasma treatment to modify the surfaces of various heterogeneous catalytic materials. The plasma modification has been shown to radically change the surface morphology of various catalytic materials including nickel, nickel-aluminum, palladium, and platinum. The surface morphology changes from a relatively smooth surface to a coarse surface containing nanostructures. These dense submicron structures increase the surface area of the catalytic material exposing more catalytic atoms to the reactant species. The local reactivity of the structures is also increased. The material treated can be in a variety of forms (e.g. wire mesh, foam, flat plates, microfiber felt, etc.). This enables use in a variety of applications. A first application under study is for increasing the activitivty of platinum catalytic layer in a hydrogen-oxygen fuel cell. Alternately the treatment may provide increased activity of a lower cost nickel alloy. The plasma treatment process can be used commercially in roll-to-roll plasma treatment as well as a batch plasma treatment system. Present studies are aimed at “tuning “the plasma treatment (i.e. select gas, temperature, pressure, length of treatment) to optimize the catalytic sites and their reactivity. Surface morphology characterizations are used to help direct this optimization.
Journal: TechConnect Briefs
Volume: 2, Materials for Energy, Efficiency and Sustainability: TechConnect Briefs 2015
Published: June 14, 2015
Pages: 99 - 102
Industry sector: Advanced Materials & Manufacturing