Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Novel fuel cell catalyst lowers need for precious metal

Date:
November 24, 2010
Source:
University of Copenhagen
Summary:
A test performed in Copenhagen proves that a new catalyst might show the way to cheap and easy fuel cells.

Fuel cells could create a breakthrough for electric cars, because refuelling them is fast and easy, just like your traditional gas guzzler. But there's an obstacle. Current fuel cells need platinum in order to work. And that's expensive. Now chemists from Copenhagen, Potsdam and Hanau have taken the first step towards producing fuel cells using very little of the precious metal. Testing problemsolver

Related Articles


At the University of Copenhagen Matthias Arenz has specialized in testing the catalysts that do the actual work in fuel cells. Presented with a so called "Core Shell catalyst" developed by Clarkson University chemist Dan Goia for fuel cell company Umicore, he soon realized that this catalyst was special and testing it would deserve an unusual effort. Et spørgsmål om overflade.

A question of surface

The catalyst in a fuel cell taps electrical current from a reaction fusing hydrogen and oxygen into water. This takes place in a complex reaction at the surface of the platinum, so more surface means more electricity. In traditional fuel cells the surface area of platinum is maximized by grinding the precious metal into exceedingly small particles and suspending them in a frame of carbon. But there's a catch or two. If the particles become too small, they lose their converting power. Tend to clot together. And over time the carbon-frame tends to burn away which again leads to clotting. These scenarios make the particles lose surface area, and with less surface area, catalysts produce less current.

Avoid clotting

Larger spheres don't need the fragile carbon scaffold, and they tend not to clot as badly. But they would require much more platinum to make. Until now. The novel catalyst from Umicore has gotten around this problem by coating larger spheres of less precious metal with a thin skin of platinum. If these do not clot the catalyst should keep producing electricity at top capacity for much longer than cells with small particles of platinum.

Molecular needle in a nano-haystack

Unfortunately figuring out whether particles clot or not is hard, explains Matthias Arenz. "In an electron microscope we find a particular particle. Then we run the fuel cell. After running gasses over the catalyst, finding that same particle is a bit like finding a needle in a haystack. But we have our ways," smiles Dr. Arenz.

Full steam from fuller spheres

Having done a series of tests, Dr. Arenz is able to conclude that the novel large-sphere catalyst retains its full converting power. The catalyst produces the same amount of electricity as small particle models. But with bigger spheres, chances are that it will keep on producing at top capacity for a longer time..

Expensive heart

Only one problem remains. The less precious spheres coated with platinum is...Gold. "Dan Goia and Umicore have been the first to show, that it is possible to create these thin shells of platinum using simple and cheap chemistry. Now they need to show, that they can do it on spheres of a somewhat cheaper material. If they succeed in this, I'm sure my tests will show, that cheap and efficient fuel cells are on their way," concludes Copenhagen chemist Matthias Arenz.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Copenhagen. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Copenhagen. "Novel fuel cell catalyst lowers need for precious metal." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 November 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101123112218.htm>.
University of Copenhagen. (2010, November 24). Novel fuel cell catalyst lowers need for precious metal. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101123112218.htm
University of Copenhagen. "Novel fuel cell catalyst lowers need for precious metal." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101123112218.htm (accessed November 27, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

NASA's First 3-D Printer In Space Creates Its First Object

NASA's First 3-D Printer In Space Creates Its First Object

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) — The International Space Station is now using a proof-of-concept 3D printer to test additive printing in a weightless, isolated environment. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — Innovative recycling project in La Paz separates city waste and converts plastic garbage into school furniture made from 'plastiwood'. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blu-Ray Discs Getting Second Run As Solar Panels

Blu-Ray Discs Getting Second Run As Solar Panels

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) — Researchers at Northwestern University are repurposing Blu-ray movies for better solar panel technology thanks to the discs' internal structures. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) — Advances in prosthetics are making replacement body parts stronger and more lifelike than they’ve ever been. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins