Date of Last Revision

2021-09-09 14:53:33


Chemical Engineering - Cooperative Education

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Date of Expected Graduation

Spring 2017


This study evaluates the electrochemical activity of several compositions of platinum-rhodium alloys on carbon support to identify potential replacements for the expensive platinum electrocatalysts currently used in direct methanol fuel cells (DMFCs). The electrochemical active surface areas (ECSAs) of each sample were determined using cyclic voltammetry (CV) in a 0.5 M H2SO4 solution to normalize CV currents generated in the methanol oxidation reaction (MOR). The activity of five compositions was tested; Pt3Rh, Pt2Rh, PtRh, Pt2Rh, and Pt3Rh. 100 mg of each catalyst was synthesized at 10% by weight platinum loading using a surfactant-free impregnation technique. TEM images were taken of one sample to examine morphology and confirm alloying of the two metals. A volcano-like relationship was found between decreasing platinum loading and electrochemical activity, with a peak seen with the Pt2Rh sample at 0.66 mA/cm2. This value is higher than a similarly prepared commercial platinum catalyst which had an activity of 0.6 mA/cm2. These findings indicate that Pt2Rh has the potential to be better suited for use in DMFCs than commercial platinum, and could be used to bring down the cost of DMFCs and make green energy one step closer to reality.

Research Sponsor

Dr. Zhenmeng Peng

First Reader

Dr. Nic Leipzig

Second Reader

Dr. Chelsea Monty



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.