Single-atom Rh/N-doped carbon electrocatalyst for formic acid oxidation

To meet the requirements of potential applications, it is of great importance to explore new catalysts for formic acid oxidation that have both ultra-high mass activity and CO resistance. Here, we successfully synthesize atomically dispersed Rh on N-doped carbon (SA-Rh/CN) and discover that SA-Rh/CN exhibits promising electrocatalytic properties for formic acid oxidation. The mass activity shows 28- and 67-fold enhancements compared with state-of-the-art Pd/C and Pt/C, respectively, despite the low activity of Rh/C. Interestingly, SA-Rh/CN exhibits greatly enhanced tolerance to CO poisoning, and Rh atoms in SA-Rh/CN resist sintering after long-term testing, resulting in excellent catalytic stability. Density functional theory calculations suggest that the formate route is more favourable on SA-Rh/CN. According to calculations, the high barrier to produce CO, together with the relatively unfavourable binding with CO, contribute to its CO tolerance.