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Finding answers century-old questions about platinum's catalytic properties

Date:
June 8, 2011
Source:
Queen's University
Summary:
Researchers now understand more about why platinum is so efficient at producing power in hydrogen fuel cells.
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Researchers now understand more about why platinum is so efficient at producing power in hydrogen fuel cells.

"Understanding platinum's properties for speeding up chemical reactions will potentially enable scientists to create significantly cheaper synthetic or metal alloy alternatives for use in sustainable devices like fuel cells," says Gregory Jerkiewicz, a professor in the Department of Chemistry who led the groundbreaking study, published in the journal Langmuir.

Dr. Jerkiewicz's research team has found that when platinum is used in reactions involving hydrogen it develops an embedded layer of hydrogen just one atom thick. This gives the platinum hydrophobic or water-repelling qualities, meaning that stray water molecules inside the fuel cell cannot bond strongly with the surface of the platinum.

The water-repelling nature of the modified platinum means that incoming hydrogen molecules can easily attach to the surface of the platinum and separate into smaller particles without requiring additional energy to displace any water molecules that are in the way.

The reduction in the energy required for hydrogen molecules to attach to the surface of the platinum means that the process is fast and efficient and the fuel cell can deliver a lot of power.


Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Queen's University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Gregory Jerkiewicz, Gholamreza Vatankhah, Shin-ichi Tanaka, Jean Lessard. Discovery of the Potential of Minimum Mass for Platinum Electrodes. Langmuir, 2011; 27 (7): 4220 DOI: 10.1021/la200153n

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Queen's University. "Finding answers century-old questions about platinum's catalytic properties." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 June 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110606122251.htm>.
Queen's University. (2011, June 8). Finding answers century-old questions about platinum's catalytic properties. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110606122251.htm
Queen's University. "Finding answers century-old questions about platinum's catalytic properties." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110606122251.htm (accessed September 2, 2015).

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