Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors





Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


android tablet pc

Home > Press > Fuel Cells Get Up to Speed with a New Kind of Platinum

Researchers including Hirohito Ogasawara (left), Anders Nilsson (center), and Mike Toney (right) used SSRL's bright X-ray beam to study a new form of platinum that could be used to make cheaper, more efficient fuel cells. (Photo courtesy Kelen Tuttle)
Researchers including Hirohito Ogasawara (left), Anders Nilsson (center), and Mike Toney (right) used SSRL's bright X-ray beam to study a new form of platinum that could be used to make cheaper, more efficient fuel cells. (Photo courtesy Kelen Tuttle)

Abstract:
A new form of platinum that could be used to make cheaper, more efficient fuel cells has been created by researchers at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and the University of Houston. The process, described in the April 25th issue of Nature Chemistry, could help enable broader use of the devices, which produce emissions-free energy using hydrogen.

Fuel Cells Get Up to Speed with a New Kind of Platinum

Menlo Park | Posted on April 28th, 2010

"This is a significant advance," said scientist Anders Nilsson, who conducts research at the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Sciences, a joint institute between SLAC and Stanford University. "Fuel cells were invented more than 100 years ago. They haven't made a leap over to being a big technology yet, in part because of this difficulty with platinum."

Fuel cells hold significant promise for clean energy because the cell's only byproduct is water. But current fuel cell designs can require as much as 100 grams of platinum, pushing their price tags into the thousands of dollars. By tweaking platinum's reactivity, the researchers were able to curtail the amount of platinum required by 80 percent, and hope to soon reduce it by another 10 percent, greatly trimming away at the overall cost.

"I think with a factor of ten, we'll have a home run," Nilsson added.

Fuel cells work much like batteries—an anode provides electrons and a cathode collects them on the other end of an electrical circuit. But unlike batteries, fuel cells use hydrogen and oxygen to drive their energy-producing reactions; when oxygen enters the metal cathode, it is broken down into individual atoms before it forms water with hydrogen.

The choice of metal for the cathode is extremely important, as some metals cannot break apart the oxygen atoms while others try to bind too strongly to the oxygen atoms, taking them away from the key reaction. Scientists seek the perfect "balance point," where the number of oxygen bonds broken is maximized and the oxygen atoms bind more weakly to the catalyst. They achieved the balance with platinum, which is strong enough to break the oxygen bonds but does not bind to the free oxygen atoms too strongly. Unfortunately, it also costs enough to make platinum-electrode fuel cells untenably expensive.

In 2005, University of Houston researcher Peter Strasser started looking for ways to crack the platinum problem not by replacing platinum outright, as other researchers sought to do, but by making platinum more reactive.

To do this, Strasser and colleagues used a process called dealloying. First, they combined platinum with varying amounts of copper to create a copper-platinum alloy. Then they removed the copper from the surface region of the alloy. When they tested the binding properties of the dealloyed platinum-copper catalyst, they found it was much more reactive than it would be otherwise.

To find out why, Strasser, Nilsson and colleagues Mike Toney and Hirohito Ogasawara put dealloyed samples under the extremely bright X-ray beam at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource. By studying how X-rays scattered from the dealloyed samples, they were able to create detailed pictures of the metal's internal structure, revealing that the increased reactivity was caused by lattice strain—a phenomenon in which the arrangement of platinum atoms is modified. By compressing the surface platinum atoms closer together, the process causes platinum atoms to bind a little more weakly to oxygen atoms and inch closer to that magical balance point between molecule dissociation and catalytic binding.

"The distance between two neighboring atoms affects their electronic structure," Strasser said. "By changing the interatomic distance, we can manipulate how strongly they form bonds."

The next step for the researchers will be to use the SSRL beam to get a closer look at the reactions between oxygen and platinum, and to determine what can be done to make the process even more efficient. The ultimate goal is to create a potential replacement not only for gasoline engines but also for the batteries found in small electronic devices.

The majority of this research is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science through its programs at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource and the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Sciences at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University. Collaborating institutions also include Argonne National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Technical University Berlin and the University of Houston.

####

About SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
SLAC is a multi-program laboratory exploring frontier questions in photon science, astrophysics, particle physics and accelerator research. Located in Menlo Park, California, SLAC is operated by Stanford University for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science. The Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource at SLAC is a national user facility which provides synchrotron radiation for research in chemistry, biology, physics and materials science to over two thousand users each year.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Melinda Lee
SLAC Media Manager
1 (650) 926-8547


Robert Brown
SLAC Director of Communications
1 (650) 926-8707

Copyright © SLAC National Accelerator 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.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Newly-Developed Nanobiosensor Quickly Diagnoses Cancer August 20th, 2014

Ultrasonic Waves Applied in Production of Graphene Nanosheets August 20th, 2014

The channel that relaxes DNA: Relaxing DNA strands by using nano-channels: Instructions for use August 20th, 2014

Success in Intracellular Imaging of Cesium Distribution in Plants Used for Cesium Absorption August 19th, 2014

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Success in Intracellular Imaging of Cesium Distribution in Plants Used for Cesium Absorption August 19th, 2014

Electrical engineers take major step toward photonic circuits: Team invents non-metallic metamaterial that enables them to 'compress' and contain light August 19th, 2014

Promising Ferroelectric Materials Suffer From Unexpected Electric Polarizations: Brookhaven Lab scientists find surprising locked charge polarizations that impede performance in next-gen materials that could otherwise revolutionize data-driven devices August 18th, 2014

Novel chip-based platform could simplify measurements of single molecules: A nanopore-gated optofluidic chip combines electrical and optical measurements of single molecules onto a single platform August 14th, 2014

Possible Futures

Air Force’s 30-year plan seeks 'strategic agility' August 1st, 2014

IBM Announces $3 Billion Research Initiative to Tackle Chip Grand Challenges for Cloud and Big Data Systems: Scientists and engineers to push limits of silicon technology to 7 nanometers and below and create post-silicon future July 10th, 2014

Virus structure inspires novel understanding of onion-like carbon nanoparticles April 10th, 2014

Local girl does good March 22nd, 2014

Academic/Education

SEMATECH and Newly Merged SUNY CNSE/SUNYIT Launch New Patterning Center to Further Advance Materials Development: Center to Provide Access to Critical Tools that Support Semiconductor Technology Node Development August 7th, 2014

Oxford Instruments Asylum Research and the Center for Nanoscale Systems at Harvard University Present a Workshop on AFM Nanomechanical and Nanoelectrical Characterization, Aug. 21-22 August 6th, 2014

University of Manchester selects Anasys AFM-IR for coatings and corrosion research July 30th, 2014

Haydale Announces Collaboration Agreement with Swansea University’s Welsh Centre for Printing and Coatings (WCPC) July 12th, 2014

Materials/Metamaterials

Promising Ferroelectric Materials Suffer From Unexpected Electric Polarizations: Brookhaven Lab scientists find surprising locked charge polarizations that impede performance in next-gen materials that could otherwise revolutionize data-driven devices August 18th, 2014

Nano Bonds Increase Raw Strength of Fireproof Concretes August 18th, 2014

Molecular engineers record an electron's quantum behavior August 14th, 2014

Scientists fold RNA origami from a single strand: RNA origami is a new method for organizing molecules on the nanoscale. Using just a single strand of RNA, this technique can produce many complicated shapes. August 14th, 2014

Announcements

Newly-Developed Nanobiosensor Quickly Diagnoses Cancer August 20th, 2014

Ultrasonic Waves Applied in Production of Graphene Nanosheets August 20th, 2014

The channel that relaxes DNA: Relaxing DNA strands by using nano-channels: Instructions for use August 20th, 2014

Electrical engineers take major step toward photonic circuits: Team invents non-metallic metamaterial that enables them to 'compress' and contain light August 19th, 2014

Energy

Chemical reaction yields "tapes" of porphin molecules: Flexible tapes from the nanoworld August 13th, 2014

Eco-friendly 'pre-fab nanoparticles' could revolutionize nano manufacturing: UMass Amherst team invents a way to create versatile, water-soluble nano-modules August 13th, 2014

“Active” surfaces control what’s on them: Researchers develop treated surfaces that can actively control how fluids or particles move August 6th, 2014

Used-cigarette butts offer energy storage solution August 5th, 2014

Fuel Cells

Media Advisory: Minister Rempel to Announce Support for Alberta's Nanotechnology Sector June 20th, 2014

Evolution of a Bimetallic Nanocatalyst June 6th, 2014

University of Surrey collaborates with India and Tata Steel to revolutionise renewable energy March 26th, 2014

Novel membrane reveals water molecules will bounce off a liquid surface: Study may lead to more efficient water-desalination systems, fundamental understanding of fluid flow March 16th, 2014

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



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














ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







© Copyright 1999-2014 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE