Tungsten(VI) oxide as a versatile support for Pd nanocatalysts for alkaline direct alcohol fuel cells

Sandile S. Gwebu, Cyril T. Selepe, Thabo Matthews, Memory Zikhali, Tebogo A. Mashola, Siyabonga P. Mbokazi, Thobeka S. Makhunga, Nobanathi W. Maxakato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The instability of carbon support materials has motivated the development of metal oxides supports which are stable under the fuel cell environment. In this study, tungsten (VI) oxide (WO3) is utilized as a secondary support and cocatalyst for the electrooxidation of methanol and ethanol. Functionalized carbon nanodots employed as primary supports were blended with WO3 nanoparticles to form a composite support onto which Pd nanoparticles were deposited by a borohydride reduction method. The synthesized Pd/fCNDs-WO3 electrocatalysts were characterized by Transmission Electron microscopy (TEM), X-ray diffractometry (XRD) and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. XRD results proved that incorporating WO3 into Pd/fCNDs electrocatalyst shifts the Pd diffraction peaks to lower 2Ɵ value due to lattice relaxation. XPS results revealed that W exist in oxidised form and confirmed the strong interaction between the support material and the catalyst. The Pd/fCNDs-WO3 electrocatalysts exhibited a remarkable catalytic activity towards methanol and ethanol oxidation. High current densities of 87.24 mA cm−2 and 44.23 mA cm−2 were obtained for ethanol and methanol oxidation, respectively, using a catalyst with 2.5% Pd loading. EIS, CA and stability tests revealed that the presence of WO3 in Pd/fCNDs electrocatalyst improves the kinetics, tolerance to poisoning and long-term durability in alkaline conditions. This superior performance is attributed to the electronic coupling between Pd and WO3 nanoparticles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19103-19114
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Hydrogen Energy
Issue number50
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jun 2023


  • Electrocatalyst
  • Ethanol
  • Methanol
  • Palladium
  • Tungsten trioxide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Fuel Technology
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology


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