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topic 12496

Electroplating with palladium



I am a high school student working on a fuel cell research project. The catalyst for my fuel cell's reaction is palladium. I want to plate this onto nickel to make to electrodes for my cell. However, this has not been very successful. When I try and plate the nickel the palladium sticks onto it but flakes off if the electrode is touched or bumped. I was wondering if anyone could suggest a method for this that is simple and effective. I want to try and make a strong electrical bond between the nickel metal and the palladium ions. The technique I have been using is electroless immersion. Thank you all for your time and information.

Michael Coulter
- Portland, Oregon



Nickel will passivate under even the most benign conditions, and this oxide layer is what is causing your palladium to flake off. There is an oxide layer forming between the palladium and the nickel. This won't make a difference if its electroless or elctrolytic.

Try the addition of a Wood's nickel strike before you plate the nickel material. 2-3% HCl with 10-20 g/L of nickel chloride at 1-2 ASF. Then go directly to your electroless, could also rinse with DI water and maybe - and I mean MAYBE - go right to your palladium plating bath.

As a fuel cell, however, nickel is way to heavy to ever be effective as a substrate. The mass to electron carry ratio is too low as compared to other materials that are available. Your looking for light materials - carbon fiber paper, matts, etc, with catalyzed surfaces that you can use as a reactant.

tom baker
Tom Baker
   wastewater treatment specialist
Warminster, Pennsylvania

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