Platinum-carbon catalyst, also called Pt/C, is a carrier catalyst loaded with platinum onto activated carbon and belongs to one of the subcategories of precious metal catalysts. It is mainly used for chemical reactions such as hydrogen oxidation, methanol oxidation, formic acid oxidation and oxygen reduction in fuel cells, and is a very common precious metal catalyst. Platinum carbon catalysts have a high technological threshold and are mainly produced through three major processes: precipitation conversion, chemical reduction and alternate microwave heating, which are highly demanding. Chemical reduction is the most commonly used method for the production of platinum carbon catalysts, which refers to the use of activated carbon, distilled water and hexachloroplatinic acid solution as raw materials to generate platinum carbon catalysts through mixing and dissolving, ultrasonic shaking and chemical reduction treatment. (nano platinum powders)
PEM electrolytic water cathode
Platinum-carbon catalyst is widely applied in PEM electrolytic water cathode, which is a method of decomposing water into hydrogen and oxygen. PEM electrolytic water cathode is one of the most widely used water decomposition technologies and is highly efficient, controllable and safe. With PEM electrolysis, hydrogen can be produced wherever it is needed and no emissions are produced. In the electrolytic water reaction, a platinum carbon catalyst facilitates the decomposition of water to produce hydrogen and oxygen. This process requires a lot of energy to carry out, so Pt/C catalyst can accelerate the reaction rate at low voltages. This means that using Pt/C catalyst can significantly reduce the amount of energy required to produce hydrogen and increase the efficiency of the reaction. Since the PEM electrolytic water hydrogen production equipment has made remarkable breakthroughs in technology and market, many PEM electrolyzer material companies started to enter the market one after another to start the attempt of localization and replacement.
Hydrogen fuel cell anode
Nowadays, new energy vehicle is the main application area for Pt/C catalyst. In this field, Pt/C catalyst plays an important role in hydrogen fuel cell anodes, as it can facilitate the reaction between hydrogen and oxygen to generate electrical energy, thus providing power for new energy vehicles. Normally, new energy vehicles use PEM fuel cells. The anode of this fuel cell requires Pt/C catalyst to accelerate the oxidation reaction of hydrogen to produce electric current. A fuel cell is an energy conversion device that converts chemical energy into electrical energy, and the electrode catalyst is one of its key raw materials. In a hydrogen fuel cell, a platinum-carbon catalyst is used to facilitate the reaction between oxygen and hydrogen. As the hydrogen passes through the electrolyte membrane into the cathode, Pt/C catalyst breaks the hydrogen into protons and electrons. The electrons flow through the circuit to produce electricity, while the protons pass through the electrolyte membrane to the anode where they combine with oxygen to form water. This process generates electricity and water for the hydrogen fuel cell.
Unlike conventional chemical platinum-carbon catalyst, which is loaded with less than 5%, the Pt/C catalyst for hydrogen fuel cells generally has a platinum loading of more than 20% and is very difficult to produce. Pt/C catalysts for hydrogen fuel cells require platinum nanoparticles with a particle size of 3-5nm, narrow particle size distribution, uniform dispersion on carbon, and no harmful impurities. Since the surface energy of 3-5nm Pt nanoparticles is very large and easily agglomerated, it is very difficult to prepare such a kind of Pt/C catalyst. With the development of new technologies, engineers are proactively researching to improve the structure and composition of catalysts in order to reduce their cost and increase their efficiency.
Pt/C catalyst is one of the fuel cell electrode catalysts commercially available in China, and the market demand for platinum carbon catalysts continues to increase, driven by the rapid growth of hydrogen fuel cell vehicle sales. According to the relevant data, the production and sales of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in China in 2022 completed 3,626 and 3,367 units respectively, representing a year-on-year growth of 105.4% and 112.8%. In the future, with the production and sales scale of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles maintaining rapid growth, it is expected that the platinum carbon catalyst market in China will maintain growth at a CAGR of over 7% from 2023 to 2028, with promising prospects for the industry development.
The successful application of platinum carbon catalysts in hydrogen fuel cells and electrolytic water reactions provides a new direction for the development and utilization of clean energy. Compared with traditional fossil fuels, hydrogen has a wide range of applications as a clean energy source, and the use of Pt/C catalyst will become more common and mature.
Overall, Pt/C catalyst has a wide range of uses in hydrogen fuel cell and electrolytic water reactions, enabling much higher reaction efficiency and lower energy consumption required for the reaction. As technology and materials continue to advance, it is believed that the use of platinum carbon catalysts will become more and more widespread and offer more possibilities for the development of our clean energy.