Synergistic Effect of Tungsten Carbide and Palladium on Graphene for Promoted Ethanol Electrooxidation

The synergistic effect of WC and Pd has large benefit for ethanol electrooxidation. The small-sized Pd nanoparticles (NPs) decorated tungsten carbide on graphene (Pd-WC/GN) will be a promising anode catalyst for the direct ethanol fuel cells. The density functional theory (DFT) calculations reveal that the strong interaction exists at the interface between Pd and WC, which induces the electron transfer from WC to Pd. Fortunately, the nanoscale architecture of Pd-WC/GN has been successfully fabricated in our experiments. X-ray photoelectron spectrum further confirms the existence of electron transfer from WC to Pd in a Pd-WC/GN nanohybrid. Notably, electrochemical tests show that the Pd-WC/GN catalyst exhibits low onset potential, a large electrochemical surface area, high activity, and stability for ethanol electrooxidation in alkaline solution compared with Pd/graphene and Pd/commercial Vulcan 72R carbon catalysts. The enhancement can be attributed to the synergistic effect of Pd and WC on graphene. At the interface between Pd and WC, the electron transfer from WC to Pd leads to the increased electron densities of surface Pd, which is available for weakening adsorption of intermediate oxygen-containing species such as CO and activating catalyst. Meanwhile, the increased tungsten oxide induced by electron transfer can facilitate the effective removal of intermediate species adsorbed on the Pd surface through a bifunctional mechanism or hydrogen spillover effect.