Advanced Solution Phase Methods for Catalyst Synthesis
Design, synthesis, and characterization of metallic nanostructures with controlled size, shape, composition, structure, and morphology as efficient electrocatalysts are critical for electrocatalytic processing of biorenewable compounds, hydrogen, water, oxygen and carbon dioxide. We have developed two solution-phase methods (ethylene glycol (EG) and nanocapsule) to precise synthesis of these multi-metallic nanostructures for electrocatalytic reactions.
Dr. Li is one of the pioneer researchers who discovered that carbon nanotubes is better electrocatalyst support than carbon black for proton exchange membrane fuel cell applications.
Selected publications:
EG method:
* Wenzhen Li, et al, Preparation and characterization of multi-walled carbon nanotube-supported platinum for cathode catalyst of direct methanol fuel cells, Journal of Physical Chemistry B, 2003, 107, 6292-6299.  Full text PDF
* Wenzhen Li, et al, Nano-structured Pt-Fe/C as cathode catalyst in direct methanol fuel cell, Electrochimica Acta, 2004, 49, 1045-1055. Full text PDF
* Wenzhen Li, et al, Homogeneous and controllable Pt partcles deposited on multil-wall carbon nanotubes as cathode catalyst for direct methanol fuel cells, Carbon, 2004, 42, 436-439. Full text PDF
* Wenzhen Li, et al, Nanostructured Pt–Fe/C cathode catalysts for direct methanol fuel cell: The effect of catalyst composition, International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, 2010, 35, 2530-2538. Full text PDF
Olumide Winjobi, et al. Carbon nanotube supported platinum–palladium nanoparticles for formic acid oxidation, Electrochimica Acta, 2010, 55, 4217-4221. Full text PDF

Nanocapsule method:
* Wenzhen Li, et al. A solution-phase synthesis method to highly active Pt-Co/C electrocatalysts for proton exchange membrane fuel cell, Journal of Power Sources, 2010, 195, 2534-2540. Full text PDF
* Zhiyong Zhang, et al, Preparation and characterization of PdFe nanoleaves as electrocatalysts for oxygen reduction reaction, Chemistry of Materials, 2011, 23, 1570-1577. Full text PDF
* Zhiyong Zhang, et al, Ultra-thin PtFe-nanowires as durable electrocatalysts for fuel cells, Nanotechnology, 2011, 22, 015602. Full text PDF
* Zhiyong Zhang, Le Xin, Kai Sun, Wenzhen Li*, Pd-Ni Electrocatalysts for Efficient Ethanol Oxidation Reaction in Alkaline Electrolyte,International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, 2011, 36, 12686-12697.Full text PDF
Sponsors: MTU-REF-RS, NSF-CBET 1032547, ACS-PRF, DOE ORNL Facility User Grant
Small NiFe amorphous nanoparticles for alkaline oxygen evolution reaction 
The electrocatalytic oxygen evolution reaction (OER) is a critical anode reaction often coupled with electron or photoelectron CO2 reduction and H2 evolution reactions at the cathode for renewable energy conversion and storage. However, the sluggish OER kinetics and the utilization of precious metal catalysts are key obstacles in the broad deployment of these energy technologies.
 
We have prepared an inexpensive supported 4 nm Ni−Fe nanoparticles using our self-developed nanocapsule method. The prepared electrocatalyst features an amorphous structure and has remarkable activity towards OER in alkaline electrolyte. The Ni−Fe nanoparticle catalyst containing 31% Fe (Ni0.69Fe0.31Ox/C) shows the highest activity, exhibiting a 280 mV overpotential at 10 mA cm−2 (equivalent to 10% efficiency of solar-to-fuel conversion) and a Tafel slope of 30 mV dec−1 in 1.0 M KOH solution. It also shows much better durability than a commercial Ir catalyst. This is one of the best known OER catalysts that can be flexibly synthesized and scale-up.
Selected Publications:
* Yang Qiu, Le Xin, Wenzhen Li, Electrocatalytic oxygen evolution over suported amorphous Ni-Fe nanoparticles in alkaline electrolyte, Langmuir, 2014, 30, 78939-7901. Full text PDF.
 
If you are interested in wet-chemistry catalyst synthesis technologies, or need relevant technical consultation, please feel free to contact Dr. Li (515-412-4582, wzli@iastate.edu). 
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