What is it about?

We present an effective route for the fabrication of electrocatalysts for Ethanol Oxidation Reaction (EOR) based on a low-cost, earth-abundant and eco-friendly material: manganese oxide. We prepare our catalyst by growing manganese oxide on nickel foam and then adding gold nanoparticles in low amount, which boost the catalytic activity. The resulting materials have large surface area and show great performances as electrocatalysts in the ethanol oxidation reaction, comparing favourably with the best oxide-based catalysts known to date.

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Why is it important?

The replacement of fossil fuel with sustainable alternatives free from environmental footprint is one of the most important challenges to combat climate change and meet the ever increasing energy demand of our planet. The production of hydrogen fuel through biomass-derived ethanol in Direct Ethanol Fuel Cells is a promising route, but it is plagued by the scarcity, high costs and short lifecycle of platinum – which is still the preferred catalyst. So, the quest to valid yet convenient substitutes to platinum still remains an open and challenging task. Our work shows that manganese-oxide based materials could be a viable alternative to platinum.


Our findings not only afford a convenient route for sustainable electrocatalysts, but also explain why our catalyst is so efficient. Gold nanoparticles activate the oxide surface toward ethanol oxidation. In other words, ethanol undergoes both partial oxidation and deprotonation immediately upon adsorption on the catalyst. Hence, our catalyst optimally prepares ethanol to the electrochemical oxidation process. This knowledge, combined with the proposed fabrication route, may guide the development of electrocatalysts based on earth-abundant metal-oxides for ethanol valorization by electrical energy from renewable sources and for (photo)electrochemical water splitting

Gloria Tabacchi
university of insubria

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This page is a summary of: Engineering Au/MnO2 hierarchical nanoarchitectures for ethanol electrochemical valorization, Journal of Materials Chemistry A, January 2020, Royal Society of Chemistry, DOI: 10.1039/d0ta05972b.
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