Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Engineering Science


Mechanical and Materials Engineering


Dr. Xueliang Sun


Meeting the energy demands of the future will require a breadth of technologies and materials for generating and converting electricity. Increasing activity and reducing costs of electrocatalysts for fuel cells is among the most important challenges for the technology. With advances in nanomaterials there has been increased interest in creating novel catalysts with both high activity and excellent long-term durability. This thesis aims to understand how modification of nanostructured carbons can be used to improve the activity and durability of catalysts and supports for the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR). Using an integrating approach to synthesis, characterization, and electrochemical testing, it is shown that modifications via heteroatom doping and surface functionalization can improve upon the catalytic properties of nanostructured carbons. This work includes successful co-doping of nitrogen and phosphorus into carbon nanotubes for metal-free catalysis, improving Pt catalyst support properties of carbon black via ozone treatment, and evaluating popular test protocols for studying carbon corrosion in fuel cells.