February 6, 2009
Nitrogen gives nanotube fuel
cells a charge
Suffuse carbon nanotubes with nitrogen
atoms and you can make fuel cells without platinum or other rare metals.
Dense arrays of vertically-aligned carbon nanotubes doped
with nitrogen atoms make more efficient and more stable fuel cell
cathodes than standard platinum electrodes. Depending on the manufacturing
process, the carbon nanotube arrays could be much less expensive than
platinum cathodes. The price of platinum is currently $32 per gram.
The nitrogen atoms give carbon nanotubes a higher charge density
than plain carbon nanotubes, which boosts the cathodes' electrochemical
activity. Fuel cell cathodes combine oxygen atoms with protons and
electrons to produce water in the second half of the fuel cell cycle.
Fuel cells made with nitrogen-doped carbon nanotubes promise
to lower fuel cell costs, particularly for vehicle fuel cells.
Carbon Nanotube Arrays with High Electrocatalytic Activity for Oxygen
Science, February 6, 2009
Related stories and briefs:
nixes platinum in plastic fuel cell -- related research
make better nanotube batteries -- related research
generates electricity -- recent work by some of the researchers
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