Graphitic materials have attracted a great interest in the field of sustainable energy production and storage because of their excellent electrical, mechanical and chemical properties. This thesis modestly contributes to this global research by investigating new interconnected carbon nanostructures, here called Carbon Nano-Networks (CNNs).
The work is divided into two parts. The first part deals with the synthesis of CNNs consisting of Chemical Vapor Deposition of ethene over metal catalyst nanoparticles synthesized in bicontinuous microemulsions. The second part deals with the use of CNNs as catalyst support in polymer electrolyte membranes fuel cells. The results presented in terms of cost, activity or durability are either superior to commercial catalyst or of the same order of magnitude of state-of-the-art catalyst. Nevertheless, the simplicity of CNNs synthesis procedure, the low price of catalyst precursor and the reduction of manufacturing steps make this novel electrode promising as material for fuel cells. In conclusion, the work described in this thesis certainly does not lead to immediate improvements in efficiency of fuel cells but it does provide for new and potentially more sustainable material solutions with which it may well be possible to attain these improvements in the near future.