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This study employs density functional theory (DFT) calculations to examine the mechanism by which acetaldehyde is formed on platinum in a typical direct ethanol fuel cell (DEFC). A pathway is found involving the formation of a strongly hydrogen-bonded complex between adsorbed ethanol and the surface hydroxyl (OH) species, followed by the facile alpha-dehydrogenation of ethanol, with spontaneous weakening of the hydrogen bond in favor of adsorbed acetaldehyde and water. This mechanism is found to be comparably viable on both the close-packed surface and the monatomic steps. Comparison of further reactions on these two sites strongly indicates that the steps act as net removers of acetaldehyde from the product stream, while the flat surface acts as a net producer.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films