April 2, 2009
Iron promises cheaper fuel cells
Cram the right material into nanoscale
holes in carbon and you're a step closer to practical hydrogen fuel
cells for vehicles.
The process makes an iron-based catalyst that can replace
platinum in the oxygen-reducing half of a polymer electrolyte fuel
cell, which is the kind of fuel cell typically used in vehicles.
Platinum is expensive, but until now less expensive materials
haven't been efficient enough for practical use. The iron-based catalyst
is 35 times more efficient than previous iron-based catalysts and
nearly as efficient as platinum.
The process involves ball milling to force a mix of materials
into 2-nanometer pores in activated carbon. The filled porous carbon
is then heated twice, first in argon and then in ammonia. The resulting
material has a large number of individual iron ions available to catalyze
the fuel cell's oxygen reaction.
The researchers are working on making the catalyst more durable.
The low-cost catalyst could make hydrogen fuel cells for vehicles
Catalysts with Improved Oxygen Reduction Activity in Polymer Electrolyte
Science, April 3, 2009
- Energy, Materials and Telecommunications
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