Direct fabrication of metal-free hollow graphene balls with a self-supporting structure as efficient cathode catalysts of fuel cell

Research Paper


Despite the good progress in developing carbon catalysts for oxygen reduction reaction (ORR), the current metal-free carbon catalysts are still far from satisfactory for large-scale applications of fuel cell. Developing hollow graphene balls with a self-supporting structure is considered to be an ideal method to inhibit graphene stacking and improve their catalytic performance. Herein, we fabricated metal-free hollow graphene balls with a self-supporting structure, through using a new strategy that involves direct metal-free catalytic growth from assembly of SiO2 spheres. To our knowledge, although much researches involving the synthesis of graphene balls have been reported, investigations into the direct metal-free catalytic growth of hollow graphene balls are rare. Furthermore, the electrocatalytic performance shows that the resulting hollow graphene balls have significantly high catalytic activity. More importantly, such catalysts also possess much improved stability and better methanol tolerance in alkaline media during the ORR compared with commercial Pt/C catalysts. The outstanding performances coupled with an easy and inexpensive preparing method indicated the great potential of the hollow graphene balls with a self-supporting structure in large-scale applications of fuel cell.

Graphical Abstract

Hollow graphene balls with a self-supporting structure have been successfully fabricated, through using a new strategy that involves direct metal-free catalytic growth from 3D assembly of SiO2 spheres. The hollow graphene balls can exhibit a high catalytic activity, long-term stability, and an excellent methanol tolerance for the oxygen reduction reaction


Fuel cell Graphene Oxygen reduction reaction Metal-free catalysts Energy conversion 

Supplementary material

11051_2016_3457_MOESM1_ESM.doc (47.1 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 48,191 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Nanomaterials and Chemistry Key LaboratoryWenzhou UniversityWenzhouChina

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