High-performance nonprecious cathodic catalysts for oxygen reduction are highly demanded for low-temperature polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs). Here, we report a noble-meta- free, nitrogen and sulfur codoped graphene(G)/carbon-nanotube(CNT) material decorated with Co nanoparticles (NPs), which serve as catalytic sites for excellent oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) in basic and acidic media. Out of the cathodic catalysts synthesized by either covalent (cov) or charge transfer (CT) modification of graphen oxide (GO) with thiamine (Th: Vitamin B1), ThG/CNT/Co-cov shows more promising ORR properties than ThG/CNT/Co-CT. Catalyst ThG/CNT/Co-cov exhibits onset/halfwave potentials of 0.95/0.86 V in 0.1 M KOH and 0.92/0.83 V in 0.1 M HClO4, which are comparable to those of commercial catalyst Pt/C (0.95/0.86 V). As compared to Pt/C, our catalyst shows higher current densities of 6.72 mA cm(-2) in basic medium and 7.08 mA cm(-2) in acidic medium at 0.55 V (vs reversible hydrogen electrode (RHE)). It also exhibits better catalytic stability and methanol tolerance. High catalytic efficiency and stability of ThG/CNT/Co-cov show a promising prospect of materialization of PEMFCs for clean energy production.
Keywords: cobalt nanoparticles; nitrogen doping; oxygen reduction reaction; sulfur doping; thiamine; vitamin B1.