Enhanced Catalytic Activity of Pt-NdFeO3 Nanoparticles Supported on Polyaniline-Chitosan Composite Towards Methanol Electro-Oxidation Reaction

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Chemistry Department, Payame Noor University, 19395-4697, Tehran, Iran

2 Central Research Laboratory, Esfarayen University of Technology, Esfarayen, North Khorasan, Iran

3 Department of Chemistry, Zahedan Branch, Islamic Azad University, P.O. Box 98135-978, Zahedan, Iran


In this work, NdFeO3 nanoparticles were synthesized through a simple co-precipitation method. The formation of NdFeO3 particles was verified by X-ray powder diffraction, infrared spectroscopy, vibrating sample magnetometer, and transmission electron microscopy analysis. Polyaniline and chitosan were employed as proper support for production of metal nanoparticles. Novel Pt-NFO/PA-CH nanocomposite was fabricated by immobilization of Pt nanoparticles on the PA-CH support in the presence of NdFeO3 nanoparticles. The prepared nanocomposite was characterized by transmission electron microscopy and X-ray powder diffraction analysis. The catalytic performance of the Pt-NFO/PA-CH nanocomposite was evaluated for electro-oxidation of methanol through CO stripping voltammetry, cyclic voltammetry, chronoamperometry, and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy. Durability of the Pt-NFO/PA-CH catalyst was investigated and the effects of several factors such as temperature, scan rate, and methanol concentration were studied for methanol oxidation. Enhanced catalytic performance of Pt-NFO/PA-CH nanocatalyst compared to Pt/PA-CH catalyst recommends its application for methanol electro-oxidation in direct methanol fuel cells.


Today, the use of fossil fuels has been limited due to the pollution of their combustion and the limited sources. To meet the energy demands of the world, scientists are looking for the new alternative energy sources. Recently, direct methanol fuel cells (DMFCs) have been considered as new, renewable and clean energy sources due to their simplicity, high efficiency, simply fuel storage, low pollution, and high energy densities [1-4]. DMFCs are new generation of the fuel cells which operate on the basis of direct oxidation of methanol as fuel [5, 6]. Methanol has several advantages as a liquid fuel such as easy availability, simple storage, handling and transportation, and high energy density. Among noble metals, platinum has greater catalytic activity for methanol oxidation reaction (MOR) [7, 8] but its high price and easily poisoning with carbon monoxide (CO) as byproduct of MOR constrain its widespread utilization [9]. CO intermediates can strongly be adsorbed at the Pt nanoparticles’ surface and poison it for electro-oxidation of methanol [10, 11].
To develop new anode catalysts with excellent activity for MOR in DMFCs, to reduce the amount of Pt loading and to reduce its poisoning effect, structure of support material and also composition of Pt-based catalysts are very important [12-17]. Extensive researches have been done in developing the promising catalysts for DMFCs through alloying Pt with other metals and modifying the electronic structure of Pt catalysts [18-26]. In DMFCs, Pt-based catalysts have lower cost, improved antipoisoning effect, and enhanced catalytic activity towards electro-oxidation of methanol compared with pure Pt catalyst [27-29]. For example different metal oxides such as, Ce, Pr, Nd and Sm oxides incorporated on mesoporous carbon have been utilized to enhance the performance of Pt nanoparticles for MOR [30]. Amin used Pt-CuO/C catalyst for MOR [31]. Rare earth oxides have been used to modify Pt/C electrocatalysts for MOR [32], and Pt-Fe nanoparticles supported on reduced graphene oxides have been used for methanol electro-oxidation [33]. NdFeO3 catalysts have been used for various chemical reactions. For example, PrFeO3 and NdFeO3 thick films have been synthesized and used for CO2 sensing [34]. Palladium doped NdFeO3 catalysts have been used for their acetone-sensing properties [35]. Pt nanoparticles doped on NdFeO3 and carbon nanotubes have been utilized for polymeric fuel cells [36]. The performance of Palladium nanoparticles accompanied by NdFeO3 perovskite has been investigated for direct methanol alkaline fuel cells [37].
A simple and effective method to enhance the performance of Pt catalysts is dispersing Pt nanoparticles on a conductive material as support. Several kinds of carbon support materials including graphene [38], carbon nanotubes [39], carbon vulcans [40], functionalized reduced graphene oxide [41], carbon blacks [42], carbon nanofibers [43], and conducting polymers [44-46] are common supports for metal nanoparticles in the fuel cell applications. Conducting polymers such as poly (o-toluidine) [47], polyaniline (PA) [48, 49], poly (o-methoxyaniline) [50], polypyrrole [51-53], and their derivatives are known as proper supporting materials for metal nanoparticles due to their high conductivity and large surface area. Polyaniline and its derivatives have attracted increasing attention as support for Pt nanoparticles due to their porous structure, large surface area, facil synthesis, and high chemical stability [54-56]. Chitosan (CH), a biopolymer produced by deacetylation of chitin, is used as support for metal nanoparticles in the fuel cells and shows strong affinity for transition metals [57].
Here, NdFeO3 (NFO) nanoparticles were successfully synthesized and used accompanied by Pt nanoparticles to improve their catalytic activity for methanol electro-oxidation in acidic media. For the first time, Pt and NFO nanoparticles were dispersed on polyaniline and chitosan (PA-CH) support to prepare the novel Pt-NFO/PA-CH nanocatalyst in one step process. The catalytic performance of Pt-NFO/PA-CH nanocatalyst and also its CO-tolerance were studied for methanol electro-oxidation and compared with those of Pt/PA-CH. The effects of several experimental factors were investigated on the electrocatalytic performance of Pt-NFO/PA-CH for MOR. The durability of the prepared catalysts was also investigated for MOR. Pt-NFO/PA-CH nanocatalyst showed better poisoning resistance and considerably improved catalytic performance for MOR compared to Pt/PA-CH.

Fe(NO3)3.9H2O, NdCl3.6H2O, NaOH, and octanoic acid were prepared from Merck and used for synthesis of NdFeO3 nanoparticles. Hexachloroplatinic acid and NaBH4 (96%) were purchased from Merck and utilized to prepare Pt nanoparticles. H2SO4 (98% from Merck) was used as electrolyte. Polyaniline (PA) from Sigma-Aldrich and chitosan (CH) with medium molecular weight (Fluka) were utilized as support to prepare Pt-NFO/PA-CH nanocomposite. Acetic acid 1% (glacial, 100% Merck) solution was used for preparation of chitosan solution. Methanol (CH3OH, 99.2%) was obtained from Merck and used for methanol oxidation (MO) investigation.

Preparation of NFO nanoparticles
To prepare NFO nanoparticles, 0.01 mole NdCl3.6H2O and 0.01 mole Fe (NO3)3.9H2O were dissolved in 10 ml of deionized water. After the addition of 2 ml octanoic acid as surfactant, the solution was stirred vigorously while its pH was reached to 9 using NaOH 2 M. After complete precipitation, the obtained solution was irradiated with ultrasonic waves at 50 ̊C for 60 min (250 W, 40 kHz). The resulting precipitate was centrifuged, washed, and dried at room temperature. The obtained powder was calcined at 600 ̊C for 4 h. NFO nanoparticles were synthesized and characterized.

Synthesis of Pt-NFO/PA-CH nanocomposite
Pt-NFO/PA-CH nanocomposite was prepared through the following method: 1 mg PA was dispersed in the mixture of 17.5 ml deionized water and 2.5 ml chitosan and sonicated for 1 h. Then, 2 mg of the prepared NFO nanocatalysts was added to the above mixture and sonicated for 30 min to get the uniform dispersion of NFO nanoparticles. Afterwards, 25 µl H2PtCl6 was added to the solution and stirred magnetically for 1 h to obtain H2PtCl6 solution (0.00125 M). Then, 50 µl NaBH4 (3M) was added rapidly. Having been stirred for 24 h, the black suspension was centrifuged and washed for several times. After drying at 60 ˚C for 12 h, Pt-NFO/PA-CH nanocomposite was obtained. Pt/PA-CH was prepared with the same procedure without using NFO nanoparticles.

Preparation of the electrodes
The modified working electrodes were prepared by mixing 2 mg of the corresponding catalyst powder in 1 ml chitosan solution. After sonication for 10 min, 5 µl of the suspension was transferred to the polished working electrode and dried at ambient temperature.

An alternating gradient force magnetometer (AGFM) apparatus fabricated by Meghnatis Daghigh Kavir Co. (Iran) was used to investigate the room temperature magnetic property of the prepared NFO nanocatalyst, in an applied magnetic field sweeping between ± 10,000 Oe. The chemical components of the prepared catalysts were characterized by X-ray diffraction (XRD) using a Philips X-ray diffractometer with Ni-filtered CuKα radiation. Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR) spectra of NFO nanoparticles and octanoic acid were recorded on a Galaxy series FTIR5000 spectrophotometer. Transmission electron microscope (TEM) images taken with TEM (Zeiss - EM10C - 100 KV) were used to observe the morphology of catalysts. Ultrasonic irradiation of the samples was controlled by a multivalve ultrasonic generator (Band line MS 73), fitted out with a converter/transducer and titanium oscillator which operate at 20 kHz. The N2 adsorption/desorption isotherms were measured using a BET instrument (Belsorp mini II, BEL Japan Ins.) at the temperature of liquid nitrogen.
All electrochemical investigations were done using an Autolab potentiostat (PGSTAT 302N, Nova software, Metrohm, Netherlands). The modified glassy carbon (GC) electrodes with 2 mm diameter were utilized as working electrode. A saturated calomel electrode (SCE) and a platinum wire were respectively served as reference and counter electrodes. The inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy (ICP-OES) was employed to know the content of Pt nanoparticles on the surface of modified GC working electrodes.

Catalyst characterization
The crystal structure of the synthesized catalysts was evaluated by XRD analysis (Fig. 1). XRD pattern of NFO shows the pure orthorhombic phase (a= 5.441, b=5.5730, c= 7.7) that is similar to the literature values (JCPDS No. 08-0168), with the main diffraction peak related to the (110) plane at d = 2.76 Å. Sharpening of the peaks is related to the high crystallinity of NFO catalyst. At Pt/PA-CH catalyst, the characteristics of PA peaks are similar to the XRD pattern of normal PA [58]. The diffraction peaks at 14.6˚, 27.96˚, and 31.68˚ are related to the (010), (111) and (022) planes of PA [59-62]. The diffraction peaks of Pt at 40.36˚, 45.36˚ and 67.36˚ are related to the (111), (200), and (220) planes of the cubic Pt, respectively [63]. Magnetic property of the prepared NFO was investigated by AGFM system at room temperature. The hysteresis loop of NFO nanocatalyst is illustrated in Fig. 1. Coercivity and saturation magnetization of NFO were about 100Oe and 1.24 emu g-1, respectively. NFO nanoparticles show ferromagnetic behavior.
FTIR spectra of octanoic acid and the prepared NFO catalyst after calcination are shown in Fig. 2. For octanoic acid, the broad band at 2650-3450 cm-1 is related to the O-H stretching vibration of carboxylic acid. The peak at 1718 cm-1 is attributed to the carbonyl group. Two peaks at 1381 and 1461 cm-1 are related to the bending of CH3 and CH2 groups, respectively. The observed peak at 1220-1330 cm-1 is assigned to the stretching of C-O group and the absorption peak at 941 cm-1 is assigned to the out of plane bending of the O-H group [64]. In the FTIR spectrum of NFO nanocatalyst, there is a strong absorption band at nearly 789 cm-1 relating to the metal-O stretching vibration of NFO nanoparticles [65].
TEM analysis was used to know the particle size, and morphology of the catalysts. Fig. 2 represents TEM image of NFO nanocatalyst. As shown, NFO nanoparticles have spherical shape. TEM image of Pt/PA catalyst without chitosan is also shown in Fig. 2. The microstructure, distribution, and morphology of Pt and NFO nanoparticles on PA-CH support are shown by TEM images in Fig. 3. For Pt/PA-CH catalyst, it is observed that Pt nanoparticles with the mean particle size of 1.87 nm are dispersed uniformly on the matrix of PA-CH support and have low agglomeration. Comparing TEM images of Pt/PA (Fig. 2) and Pt/PA-CH (Fig. 3) demonstrates that in the absence of chitosan, more agglomeration would happen for Pt nanoparticles and the use of chitosan accompanied by PA lead to the better and more uniform distribution of Pt nanoparticles.
As shown for Pt-NFO/PA-CH catalyst in Fig. 3, Pt nanoparticles (mean particle size of 2.04 nm) are well dispersed on the matrix of PA-CH support and also around NFO nanoparticles (mean particle size of 19.92 nm) and have very low agglomeration. This uniform distribution of Pt nanoparticles is attributed to the use of polyaniline and chitosan as supporting materials. PA is a conducting polymer with NH functional groups in its structure. The presence of NH functional groups in PA and the amino groups in chitosan structure provides positive groups in acidic media. The electrostatic attraction between these positive functional groups and the negative charged PtCl62- (the precursor of Pt nanoparticles) causes the uniform dispersion of Pt particles. Furthermore, the use of CH as supporting material lead to the good adherence of the catalyst ink layer on the surface of GC electrode. The schematic illustration for preparing Pt-NFO/PA-CH nanocatalyst towards MOR is shown in Fig. 4.
The N2 adsorption/desorption isotherms were measured using a BET instrument (Belsorp mini II, BEL Japan Ins.) at the temperature of liquid nitrogen. The specific surface area was calculated by using the BET (Brunauer–Emmett–Teller) model [66] and the pore size distributions were determined by the BJH (Barrett–Joyner–Halenda) method [67].
The N2 adsorption–desorption isotherm and pore size distribution of the NdFeO3 nanoparticles was illustrated in Fig. 5. The BET surface area, total pore volume and pore diameter of NFO calculated from the desorption branch of the isotherm using the BJH method were 10.642 m2g-1, 0.0301 cm3g-1 and 22.07 nm, respectively.

Electrocatalytic measurements
The electrochemical behavior of Pt/PA-CH and Pt-NFO/PA-CH nanocatalysts in a 0.5 M H2SO4 electrolyte was studied through cyclic voltammetry (CV) in the potential sweeps from -0.3 V to 1.2 V at 100 mV s-1 (Fig. 6A). The amount of platinum loading at the surface of GC electrode was 0.049 mg cm-2. Both CV curves demonstrated hydrogen adsorption and hydrogen desorption peaks which can be served for calculation the electrochemically active surface area (EASH). The EASH value of each catalyst can be used to determine its electrocatalytic activity [68]. It is determined by calculating the charges of hydrogen adsorption and desorption peaks after excluding the effect of double-layer using the following equation [69]:


0.21 mC cm-2 is the charge considered for oxidizing single layer of the adsorbed hydrogen on platinum [70], [Pt] is the amount of platinum loading on GC electrode and QH is the columbic charge for hydrogen adsorption/desorption on the Pt sites [70]. For Pt/PA-CH and Pt-NFO/PA-CH catalysts, QH was determined between -0.271 to 0.051 V vs. SCE. The EASH value of Pt-NFO/PA-CH catalyst (94.46 m2 g-1Pt) was more than Pt/PA-CH catalyst (75.83 m2 g-1Pt) demonstrating that Pt-NFO/PA-CH has higher electrocatalytic performance than Pt/PA-CH catalyst [71].
The CO poisoning resistance of Pt-NFO/PA-CH and Pt/PA-CH catalysts was determined by CO stripping voltammetry shown in Fig. 6B [72]. CO stripping experiment was performed by purging CO gas in H2SO4 0.5 M while the potential was held at 0.2 V for 20 min at 100 mV s-1. Afterwards, N2 gas was bubbled for 20 min to remove the non-adsorbed CO [73].
The CO oxidation peak of Pt-NFO/PA-CH was observed at 0.527 V whereas, for Pt/PA-CH catalyst, it was observed at 0.701 V. The onset potential for oxidation of the adsorbed CO at Pt/PA-CH and Pt-NFO/PA-CH catalysts were 0.574 V and 0.212 V, respectively. The onset and peak potential for oxidation of the adsorbed CO at Pt-NFO/PA-CH were much lower than Pt/PA-CH indicated that the adsorbed CO at the Pt-NFO/PA-CH surface is oxidized and removed more easily than that of Pt/PA-CH. Pt-NFO/PA-CH had higher CO tolerance than Pt/PA-CH [74, 75].
The catalytic performance of Pt-NFO/PA-CH, Pt/PA-CH and Pt/PA catalysts for methanol electro-oxidation was studied through the CV curves in 0.5 M H2SO4 and 1.68 M methanol solution at 100 mV s-1. As depicted in Fig. 7A, NFO/PA-CH and PA-CH (not shown) GC modified electrodes showed no current peak for methanol electro-oxidation, therefore these electrodes had no electrocatalytic performance for MOR.
The CV curves of the synthesized catalysts exhibited two remarkable peaks for MOR. The peaks in the forward scans (If) were corresponded to methanol electro-oxidation and the peaks in the backward scans (Ib) represented the oxidation of the adsorbed CO-containing species produced during MOR [76]. All the currents in Fig. 7A were mass normalized. For Pt-NFO/PA-CH and Pt/PA-CH catalysts, the anodic MOR peaks were located in the forward scan at 0.932 V and 0.766 V, respectively with the corresponding mass current of 15.755 and 5.151 A mg-1Pt. The second MOR peaks for Pt-NFO/PA-CH and Pt/PA-CH were observed in the backward scan around 0.622 V and 0.461 V, respectively. The electrochemical data of MO on the synthesized catalysts was summarized in Table 1. Magnitude of the anodic mass current indicated the catalytic activity for methanol electro-oxidation. As observed in Fig. 7A and Table 1, there was a great increase in the anodic mass current of Pt-NFO/PA-CH compared to Pt/PA-CH catalyst, suggesting that Pt-NFO/PA-CH has superior electrocatalytic ability for methanol electro-oxidation compared to Pt/PA-CH. The use of NFO nanoparticles accompanied by Pt nanoparticles significantly improved their catalytic activity for MOR. Catalytic activity of Pt/PA catalyst without using chitosan was also investigated for MOR compared to Pt/PA-CH catalyst. As shown in Fig. 7A, Pt/PA-CH had a little better catalytic activity than Pt/PA. The main advantage of using chitosan is improved dispersion of Pt nanoparticles and better adherence of the catalyst ink on the electrode’s surface. The catalytic activity of Pt-NFO/PA-CH catalyst was compared with different catalysts prepared in the previous works (Table 2) [4, 76-78]. As shown in Table 2, Pt-NFO/PA-CH has higher catalytic activity than other catalysts towards MO according to its higher EAS and higher anodic mass current.
The long-term stabilities of Pt-NFO/PA-CH and Pt/PA-CH catalysts for MOR were measured by chronoamperometry (CA) technique. The CA curves were obtained in 0.5 M H2SO4 and 1.68 M methanol at 0.8 V vs. SCE for 1000 s (Fig. 7B). As shown in Fig. 7B, Pt-NFO/PA-CH had better catalytic activity than Pt/PA-CH for methanol electro-oxidation. Initially, the current of the prepared catalysts decreased rapidly. This may be related to the reactive intermediates generated during methanol electro-oxidation [79]. At the initial stage, Pt-NFO/PA-CH had a higher anodic mass current (6.933 A mg-1Pt) compared to Pt/PA-CH (3.690 A mg-1Pt). After the measured time (1000 s), Pt-NFO/PA-CH (0.710 A mg-1Pt) still had higher current (approximately 2.8 times) than Pt/PA-CH (0.254 A mg-1Pt) indicating the higher tolerance of Pt-NFO/PA-CH to the produced intermediates (for example CO) during methanol electro-oxidation [80]. This result confirmed the enhanced catalytic performance of Pt/NFO/PA-CH compared to Pt/PA-CH for MOR.
Furthermore, electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) of the prepared electrodes was obtained to determine their behaviors for MOR [81]. EIS investigations were performed in 1.68 M methanol and 0.5 M H2SO4 at open circuit potential (OCP) and the frequency range of 1×104 to 10-2 Hz. The Nyquist plots of Pt/PA-CH and Pt-NFO/PA-CH catalysts are shown in Fig. 8. As can be seen, each Nyquist plot consists two parts of Z’ and Z’’ which represent the ohmic and capacitive parameters, respectively [82]. As illustrated in Fig. 8, Pt-NFO/PA-CH catalysts showed a smaller value of the semicircle diameter in the high frequency region compared to Pt/PA-CH indicating that Pt-NFO/PA-CH had lower charge transfer resistance at the electrode/electrolyte interface and better conductivity than Pt/PA-CH [83]. A more vertical straight line at the EIS plot of Pt-NFO/PA-CH than that of Pt/PA-CH in the low frequency region revealed the improved ions diffusion feature of Pt-NFO/PA-CH for methanol electro-oxidation [69].
Temperature is an effective factor to get information about the reaction rate. To investigate the catalytic performance of Pt/PA-CH and Pt-NFO/PA-CH in different temperatures, cyclic voltammetry experiments were performed in 1.68 M methanol and 0.5 M H2SO4 in the temperature range of 28-45 ˚C (Fig. 9). As demonstrated, the anodic current densities of the prepared catalysts increase with temperature. Perhaps, this effect is due to the increase in charge (ion) transfer rate at the interface of electrolyte and electrodes [84]. When the temperature increased from 28 to 45 ˚C, jf increased from 123.625 to 296.672 mA cm-2 at Pt/PA-CH catalyst whereas, for Pt-NFO/PA-CH catalyst, jf increased from 594.801 to 922.428 mA cm-2. The activation energies (Ea) of the anodic peaks of methanol oxidation at Pt/PA-CH and Pt-NFO/PA-CH catalysts were determined according to the Arrhenius relationship (equation 2) and the suitable linear fit log j versus T-1 (Fig. 10) [84]:

In this equation, Ea defines activation energy, R is known as gas constant, I and T denote the current at the specific potential and temperature, respectively. The activation energies for Pt/PA-CH and Pt-NFO/PA-CH catalysts were 17.394 and 9.080 kJ mol-1, respectively. The smaller value of activation energy of the anodic peak of MOR at Pt-NFO/PA-CH compared to Pt/PA-CH catalyst, revealing the faster charge transfer on the Pt-NFO/PA-CH surface [33, 71].
The catalytic activities of Pt/PA-CH and Pt-NFO/PA-CH catalysts for methanol electro-oxidation are shown at different scan rates (30-190 mVs-1) in 0.5 M H2SO4 and 1.68 M methanol (Fig. 11). Increasing the scan rate resulted in increasing the anodic peak current of MOR with a positive shift in peak potential. As demonstrated in Fig. 11, the anodic peak current densities of the catalysts (jf) increase linearly with the square root of scan rate (υ0.5), which suggests that diffusion process is predominant during MOR [85]. Furthermore, the linear relationship between Ef and ln υ at Pt/PA-CH (R2 = 0.94) and Pt-NFO/PA-CH (R2 = 0.98) demonstrate that the kinetics is controlled by the surface reactions and indicates that MOR is an irreversible-diffusion process [86-88].
Fig. 12 represents the performance of Pt-NFO/PA-CH towards electro-oxidation of methanol with different concentrations in 0.5 M H2SO4 solution. As demonstrated in Fig. 12, anodic current of MOR increases with increase in methanol concentration and levels off at methanol concentrations more than 1.68 M. This effect is assumed to be occurred by saturation of active sites at the electrode’s surface [70, 89]. Furthermore, when the concentration of methanol increases from 0.08 to 1.9 M, Ef shifts towards more positive potentials from 0.659 to 0.947 V. Perhaps, this effect is observed because of the following reason: the poisoning rate of Pt nanoparticles increases with increase in methanol concentration, thus the adsorbed intermediates at the Pt nanoparticles’ surface would be removed at more positive potentials [90].
The long-term stabilities of Pt-NFO/PA-CH and Pt/PA-CH were studied through multiple CVs tests (100 cycles) shown in Fig. 13. At Pt-NFO/PA-CH catalyst, jf decreased to 79.66% of its initial value after 100 cycles. At Pt/PA-CH catalyst, jf decreased to 79.41% of the original value after 100 cycles. As can be seen, Pt-NFO/PA-CH catalyst had a little better cycling stability for methanol electro-oxidation compared to Pt/PA-CH. Both of the prepared catalysts had good durability for methanol oxidation. Pt-NFO/PA-CH catalyst revealed much better catalytic performance for methanol electro-oxidation compared to Pt/PA-CH regarding the anodic current density [72, 91].
To study the kinetics of Pt/PA-CH and Pt-NFO/PA-CH catalysts, Tafel plots were considered using potentiodynamic pseudo-steady state polarization of 1.68 M CH3OH in 0.5M H2SO4 solution at the scan rate of 30 mV s-1 shown in Fig. 14. Splitting of the first C-H bond of methanol with the first electron transfer is the rate-determining step of MOR [92]. The Tafel slopes of Pt/PA-CH and Pt-NFO/PA-CH were 249 and 234 mV.dec–1 respectively, indicating that methanol dehydrogenation reaction on Pt-NFO/PA-CH is faster than Pt/PA-CH.
The kinetic parameters of methanol oxidation for the prepared catalysts were calculated from the following Tafel equations (3) and (4) [93]:


Where R is the gas constant, T is the temperature, i0 is the exchange current density, F is the Faraday constant, α is the charge transfer coefficient.
The charge transfer coefficients of Pt/PA-CH and Pt-NFO/PA-CH were 0.23 and 0.25, respectively. The exchange current density for Pt/PA-CH and Pt-NFO/PA-CH catalysts was 0.19 and 0.31, respectively. The higher charge transfer coefficient, higher exchange current density and lower Tafel slope of Pt-NFO/PA-CH catalyst confirm its greater catalytic activity than Pt/PA-CH.

In this study, a novel Pt-NFO/PA-CH nanocatalyst was successfully synthesized and characterized. The catalytic activity of this catalyst was evaluated for methanol electro-oxidation and compared with that of Pt/PA-CH nanocatalyst. High catalytic performance of the prepared catalysts for methanol oxidation is probably attributed to the use of polyaniline and chitosan as support for nanoparticles. The use of PA and CH with their positive functional groups as catalyst support caused the uniform distribution of Pt nanoparticles confirmed with TEM images. Pt-NFO/PA-CH catalyst exhibited enhanced catalytic performance for methanol electro-oxidation compared to Pt/PA-CH, considering its better antipoisoning effect, improved electrochemically active surface area, higher long-term stability, better durability and higher anodic mass current for methanol oxidation than Pt/PA-CH. The use of NFO nanoparticles accompanied by Pt nanoparticles significantly enhanced their catalytic activity for MOR. Also, the presence of CH led to the excellent adherence of the catalyst ink over the GC working electrode. These investigations revealed that Pt-NFO/PA-CH can be utilized as an effective catalyst for methanol oxidation.

Technical and financial support of this work is provided by Payame Noor University of Mashhad, Esfarayen University of Technology, and Islamic Azad University of Zahedan for the presentation of S. Khammarnia’s doctoral thesis.

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interests regarding the publication of this manuscript.

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