WIAS Preprint No. 1522, (2010)

The role of reactive reaction intermediates in two-step heterogeneous electro-catalytic reactions: A model study



Authors

  • Fuhrmann, Jürgen
    ORCID: 0000-0003-4432-2434
  • Zhao, Hong
  • Langmach, Hartmut
  • Seidel, Yvonne E.
  • Jusys, Zenonas
  • Behm, Rolf J.

2010 Mathematics Subject Classification

  • 35K20 65N99

Keywords

  • Finite Volume Method, Electrocatalysis

Abstract

Experimental investigations of heterogeneous electrocatalytic reactions have been performed in flow cells which provide an environment with controlled parameters. Measurements of the oxygen reduction reaction in a flow cell with an electrode consisting of an array of Pt nanodisks on a glassy carbon substrate exhibited a decreasing fraction of the intermediate $H_2O_2$ in the overall reaction products with increasing density of the nanodiscs. A similar result is true for the dependence on the catalyst loading in the case of a supported Pt/C catalyst thin-film electrode, where the fraction of the intermediate decreases with increasing catalyst loading. Similar effects have been detected for the methanol oxidation. We present a model of multistep heterogeneous electrocatalytic oxidation and reduction reactions based on an adsorption-reaction-desorption scheme using the Langmuir assumption and macroscopic transport equations. A continuum based model problem in a vertical cross section of a rectangular flow cell is proposed in order to explain basic principles of the experimental situation. It includes three model species A, B, C, which undergo adsorption and desorption at a catalyst surface, as well as adsorbate reactions from A to B to C. These surface reactions are coupled with diffusion and advection in the Hagen Poiseuille flow in the flow chamber of the cell. Both high velocity asymptotic theory and a finite volume numerical are used to obtain approximate solutions to the model. Both approaches show a behaviour similar to the experimentally observed. Working in more general situations, the finite volume scheme was applied to a catalyst layer consisting of a number of small catalytically active areas corresponding to nanodisks. Good qualitative agreement with the experimental findings was established for this case as well.

Appeared in

  • Fuel Cells, 11 (2011) pp. 501--510.

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