Aloha, fun & authoritative answers -- no cost, no registration, no passwords, no popups
(as an eBay Partner & Amazon Affiliate we earn from qualifying purchases)

Home /
Site 🔍
pub  Where the
world gathers for metal finishing
Q&As since 1989


Platinum Plating Electrodes for Fuel Cell use

Q. Hello,
I am an electrical engineering student at Florida State University. I am working on building a direct methanol(or NaBH4) fuel cell. I have some chloroplatinic acid and wish to plate the Platinum onto electrodes which are made of 316 stainless steel mesh. I do not have the mesh yet, but have tried plating on various metals with no luck. I tried putting a steel washer into some boiling sulfuric acid to "clean" it, and then washed it off thoroughly before plating. Platinum plated onto it, but wiped off just as easily. I need a coating with a very rough, yet durable finish to properly catalyse the hydrogen. I then took some galvanized steel, thoroughly sanded it down, and tried to plate to it, but failed. I have some silver chloride, and silver nitrate. Might I electroplate the steel with silver via these compounds before platinum plating?Will 316 stainless even need a silver plating?Thank you so much!

Matthew Ryan Gibson
Student - Tallahassee, Florida, USA

A. I don't think you should directly plate Pt, and I wouldn't start with Ag, either. Try a Ni plate first, then Pt. Also, make sure that you have properly prepared the surface for plating.

James Totter
James Totter, CEF
- Tallahassee, Florida

Q. Hello,
thank you for the advise!What would be a suitable nickel solution?I can get ahold of nickel chloride. Would that be adequate?If not, where might I go to get this?I am also thinking about switching to copper sheet, and plating that with silver and going with an alkaline fuel cell rather than a PEM type...As for the silver plating copper(or brass), I was given a formula to use involving the silver chloride, some non-iodized salt, and cream of tarter. This forms a paste, which is then rubbed on the metal sheet, apparently plating a layer of silver. How thick might this layer be?As I understand, plating involves removal of the base metal, and deposition of the plating metal. Might a silver plate via the above described method be thick enough to plate a decent amount of platinum?(~50-100mg Pt.)

Thank you,

Matthew Ryan Gibson
Student - Tallahassee, Florida, USA

A. I have tried Pt plating on copper foil and it came good. Are you using any additives for the Pt plating bath? I did the plating using a solution of hexachloroplatinic acid and HCl. I used sandpapers to clean the copper foil's surface.

Prabhu Ganesan
University of South Carolina - South Carolina

First of two simultaneous responses --

A. I'd use a nickel sulphate bath; steels don't like chloride much (the typical sulphate bath has a small amount but nothing like a NiCl bath).

The type of silver deposit you referred to is an immersion deposit and it won't be thick enough for anything you want... it probably wouldn't stick to the steel anyway.

If I were you, I'd go to the FSU/FAMU (don't know which one you attend)library and see if they have something like Modern Electroplating by Lowenstein and research the baths, preparation for plating, etc.

James Totter, CEF
- Tallahassee, Florida

Second of two simultaneous responses --

Q. Hello,
I tried plating to copper, and had the copper somehow react with the hexachloroplatinic acid. I'm just taking the solution, and adding distilled water to it to dilute it down, and then immersing the object into the solution. A D cell battery then is used to provide current. Cathode to the object, anode to a pencil lead which is in the solution. I have some solar panels with silvered backsides which plate reasonably well. When I get close to the required thickness of Pt. it begins to peel though. Any idea why? I have seen nichrome wire screen used before. Any idea where I might find this?I have a formula for silver plating with silver chloride using salt, and cream of tarter. All ingredients are ground up and then wetted, this mix is rubbed onto a clean surface for plating. Any idea how well this will plate something?Im looking to eventually have a Platinum plating that is very coarse and smudgey (lotsa surface area).
Thank you,

Matt Gibson
Student - Tallahassee, Florida, USA

A. Maybe I don't understand your goal. Are you trying to develop a platinum electrode or can you use an off the shelf electrode until you have a working method? Platinum coated titanium electrodes are readily available in many sizes and shapes or you can use a length of thin platinum wire to make your own special shape. After you know your fuel cell works you can improve the design. (?)

Neil Bell
Red Sky Plating
supporting advertiser
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Q. I know there are plenty of things out there that are better than anything I could do at home, but the prices are all ridiculous. Platinum is sold at far more than its current market value. I've yet to see anywhere that sells platinum at 1200$ per ounce. That is why I am attempting to make my own electrodes. I don't care what the base metal is, as long as platinum will plate to it, and have a durable, rough surface. Steel, zinc, and copper wires all cause Platinum metal to fall out of solution. Silver works great, but is also impossible for me to plate myself(cant get any cyanide, nor want that risk!) Nickel seems to work well too, but is also very costly. I had some 92% Pt 8% tungsten wire and it did not work at all. It also failed to catalyse methanol, and even H2O2.
Silver seems to be out of the question now. Would anyone here happen to know of a place selling nickel sheet, or wire screen for a decent price? Or of another material that Platinum would plate to well?
Thank you!

Matt Gibson
student - Tallahassee, Florida, USA

A. Try in VWR.

Prabhu Ganesan
- South Carolina

Q. Hello,
I am having some success now with what I think is brass. The object is a key and is colored like brass, and since I haven't heard of bronze keys, I assume it is brass. I used sandpaper to thoroughly clean the key, and then a sanding stone to polish it. Placing this key into the hexachloroplatinic acid yielded a nice shiny finish. Rubbing with my fingers failed to remove any platinum, and placing in hydrogen peroxide resulted in lots of bubbles! I then began to plate more platinum on and it seems to hold up well. The surface is pretty dull and rough now, but a little platinum does rub off when I wipe it. Seems to be adequate though. I now have some 100mesh brass screen coming, and will attempt to plate this. What is a good way to thoroughly clean this screen before plating? Also, as a side experiment, id like to catalyse some methanol(to demonstrate how Pt. catalysts work). Would a thin plating of platinum on some of this screen be enough to do this?
Thank you,

Matt Gibson
student - Tallahassee, Florida USA

Q. Hello, I am a part of a club at my high school and we are going to attempt to build a fuel cell but we have limited funds. I was wondering if there where any cheaper ways of making the mesh for the fuel cell... I know it needs to be either platinum or silver and I was wondering if you had any suggestions.

Dylan Schuett
- Evansville, Wisconsin, United States
December 7, 2010

Q. Hello Prabhu Ganesan,
I am going to work on electroplating of platinum on copper mesh/foil; I just want to know whole procedure: what anode, what cathode, how much HCl, and how much hexachloroplatinic acid should be used?

Robin d'Souza
- Vadodara, Gujarat, India
March 15, 2012

RFQ: Where can I buy platinum coated nickel wire or just platinum wire in Pune or Mumbai? Actually I need it for a science project to make hydrogen fuel cell?

bedke anil
- Maharashtra, India
August 17, 2012

Q. I need to electroplate 15 nm thickness Platinum into small feature size, which is a part of my process flows. Anyone can give any information about the recipe, papers or anything related?

Menglin Cao
- Uk
May 11, 2013

A. Hi Menglin. As you can see, there are several ways to deposit platinum. And it can be intended as a decorative coating, electronic contact, catalyst, etc. And the process usually depends very heavily on the substrate. If you can flesh out your inquiry by telling us what the substrate is and why the coating is being applied, and whether you need to plate just a couple of parts vs. millions, people may be able to point you to applicable technology. Good luck.


Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey
May 14, 2013

(No "dead threads" here! If this page isn't currently on the Hotline your Q, A, or Comment will restore it)

Q, A, or Comment on THIS thread -or- Start a NEW Thread

Disclaimer: It's not possible to fully diagnose a finishing problem or the hazards of an operation via these pages. All information presented is for general reference and does not represent a professional opinion nor the policy of an author's employer. The internet is largely anonymous & unvetted; some names may be fictitious and some recommendations might be harmful.

If you are seeking a product or service related to metal finishing, please check these Directories:

Chemicals &
Consult'g, Train'g
& Software

About/Contact  -  Privacy Policy  -  ©1995-2024, Pine Beach, New Jersey, USA  -  about "affil links"