Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Gold, Copper Nanoparticles Take Center Stage in the Search for Hydrogen Production Catalysts

X-ray studies at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE)
Brookhaven National Laboratory are pointing the way to less costly
and more efficient catalysts for improving the performance of fuel
cells. The studies, which will be presented by Brookhaven chemist
Jose Rodriguez at the 233rd National Meeting of the American Chemical
Society, show that copper can be substituted for gold in reactions
that keep fuel cells functioning longer while eliminating unwanted

Gold, Copper Nanoparticles Take Center Stage in the Search for Hydrogen Production Catalysts

CHICAGO, IL | Posted on March 28th, 2007

With the goal of efficient fuel cell operation in mind, researchers
first need to turn their attention to hydrogen, which is one of the
leading energy sources being investigated by scientists sponsored by
the DOE as part of its mission to ensure the nation's future energy
needs. A major problem facing today's most promising fuel-cell
technologies is that the same hydrogen-rich materials feeding the
reaction often contain high levels of carbon monoxide (CO), which is
formed during hydrogen production. Within a fuel cell, CO "poisons"
the expensive platinum catalysts that convert hydrogen into
electricity, deteriorating their efficiency over time and requiring
their replacement.

Rodriguez will discuss how the use of gold and copper nanoparticles
might provide a solution to this problem at 8:30 a.m. Central Time
(9:30 a.m. Eastern Time) on Wednesday, March 28, 2007, in room S404D,
Level 4, at McCormick Place South, Chicago, Illinois.

"We're trying to find a catalyst that achieves two things: produces
hydrogen while removing a large amount of CO," Rodriguez said.

One way to eliminate the CO byproduct is to combine it with water to
produce hydrogen gas and carbon dioxide in a process known as the
"water-gas shift" reaction. With the assistance of proper catalysts,
the water-shift reaction can convert nearly 100 percent of the CO
into carbon dioxide. Using catalyst characterization techniques at
Brookhaven's National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS), Rodriguez and
coworkers Jonathan Hanson and Jan Hrbek found that nanoparticles of
either gold or copper, supported on a metal, can perform this
catalytic role. In particular, they found that the greatest catalytic
activity is achieved with extremely small nanoparticles -- less than
4 nanometers (4 billionths of a meter) -- supported on the metal
cerium oxide, or ceria.

"Metal nanoparticles alone are not able to do the catalysis,"
Rodriguez said. "But when you put them on the ceria, you see
tremendous catalytic activity."

At the nanoscale, gold has long been known to exhibit chemical
reactivity that makes it a potent catalyst. The problem, however,
comes with its hefty price tag. "We wanted a material that was less
expensive," Rodriguez said. "We wanted to see if we could replace the
gold with copper." Using x-ray diffraction, absorption, and
spectroscopy studies at the NSLS, Rodriguez's group showed that the
substitution is indeed possible. Although gold nanoparticles continue
to show the greatest catalytic activity, copper is almost as reactive
and its cost is much lower.

This research was funded by the Office of Basic Energy Sciences
within the DOE's Office of Science.


About Brookhaven National Laboratory
One of ten national laboratories overseen and primarily funded by the
Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Brookhaven
National Laboratory conducts research in the physical, biomedical,
and environmental sciences, as well as in energy technologies and
national security. Brookhaven Lab also builds and operates major
scientific facilities available to university, industry and
government researchers. Brookhaven is operated and managed for DOE's
Office of Science by Brookhaven Science Associates, a
limited-liability company founded by the Research Foundation of State
University of New York on behalf of Stony Brook University, the
largest academic user of Laboratory facilities, and Battelle, a
nonprofit, applied science and technology organization. Visit
Brookhaven Lab's electronic newsroom for links, news archives,
graphics, and more: .

For more information, please click here

Media & Communications Office (631) 344-2345 phone
Community, Education, Government (631) 344-8350 phone
& Public Affairs Directorate (631) 344-3368 fax
Brookhaven National Laboratory
Upton NY 11973

Copyright © Brookhaven National Laboratory

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press


X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy under real ambient pressure conditions June 28th, 2017

Physicists make quantum leap in understanding life's nanoscale machinery June 27th, 2017

Picosunís ALD solutions enable novel high-speed memories June 27th, 2017

Atomic imperfections move quantum communication network closer to reality June 25th, 2017


X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy under real ambient pressure conditions June 28th, 2017

Nanometrics to Participate in the 9th Annual CEO Investor Summit 2017: Accredited investor and publishing research analyst event held concurrently with SEMICON West and Intersolar 2017 in San Francisco June 27th, 2017

NMRC, University of Nottingham chooses the Quorum Q150 coater for its reliable and reproducible film thickness when coating samples with iridium June 27th, 2017

Picosunís ALD solutions enable novel high-speed memories June 27th, 2017


Tiny bubbles provide tremendous propulsion in new microparticles research-Ben-Gurion U. June 21st, 2017

Enhanced photocatalytic activity by Cu2O nanoparticles integrated H2Ti3O7 nanotubes June 21st, 2017

Cambridge Nanotherm partners with Inabata for global sales and distribution June 20th, 2017

Development of low-dimensional nanomaterials could revolutionize future technologies June 15th, 2017

Fuel Cells

Electrocatalyst nanostructures key to improved fuel cells, electrolyzers June 5th, 2017

Stanford scientists use nanotechnology to boost the performance of key industrial catalyst May 18th, 2017

MIT Energy Initiative awards 10 seed fund grants for early-stage energy research May 4th, 2017

Promising results obtained with a new electrocatalyst that reduces the need for platinum: Researchers from Aalto University have succeeded in manufacturing electrocatalysts used for storing electric energy with one-hundredth of the amount of platinum that is usually needed March 24th, 2017

The latest news from around the world, FREE

  Premium Products
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More

Nanotechnology Now Featured Books


The Hunger Project