Platinum black is widely used as a thin film covering solid platinum metal, forming platinum electrodes for applications in electrochemistry. The process of covering platinum electrodes with such a layer of platinum black is called "platinization of platinum". The platinized platinum has a true surface area much higher than the geometrical surface area of the electrode and, therefore, exhibits catalytic action superior to that of shiny platinum.
Platinum black powder is used as a catalyst in proton exchange membrane fuel cells. In common practice, the platinum black is either sprayed or hot pressed onto the membrane or gas diffusion layer. A suspension of platinum black and carbon powder in ethanol-water solutions serves to optimize the uniformity of the coating, electrical conductivity, and in the case of application to the membrane, to prevent dehydration of the membrane during the application.
Platinization is often conducted from water solution of 0.072 mol/kg of chloroplatinic acid and 0.00013 mol/kg of lead acetate, at a current density of 30 mA/cm2 for up to 10 minutes. The process evolves chlorine at the anode; the interaction of the chlorine with the cathode is prevented by employing a suitable separation (e.g., a glass frit).
Another author recommends electroplating with the current density of 5 mA/cm2 while reversing the polarity every 30 s for 15 minutes.
After platinization, the electrode should be rinsed and stored in distilled water. The electrode loses its catalytic properties on prolonged exposure to air.