Nanotechnology Now







Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

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

Evidence mounts for quantum criticality theory: Findings bolster theory that quantum fluctuations drive strange electronic phenomena January 30th, 2015

Everything You Need To Know About Nanopesticides January 30th, 2015

DNA nanoswitches reveal how life's molecules connect: An accessible new way to study molecular interactions could lower cost and time associated with discovering new drugs January 30th, 2015

Crystal light: New light-converting materials point to cheaper, more efficient solar power: University of Toronto engineers study first single crystal perovskites for new solar cell and LED applications January 30th, 2015

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Evidence mounts for quantum criticality theory: Findings bolster theory that quantum fluctuations drive strange electronic phenomena January 30th, 2015

Nanoscale Mirrored Cavities Amplify, Connect Quantum Memories: Advance could lead to quantum computing and the secure transfer of information over long-distance fiber optic networks January 28th, 2015

Detecting chemical weapons with a color-changing film January 28th, 2015

'Bulletproof' battery: Kevlar membrane for safer, thinner lithium rechargeables January 28th, 2015

Possible Futures

GS7 Graphene Sensor maybe Solution in Fight Against Cancer January 25th, 2015

Nanotechnology in Energy Applications Market Research Report 2014-2018: Radiant Insights, Inc January 15th, 2015

'Mind the gap' between atomically thin materials December 23rd, 2014

A novel method for identifying the body’s ‘noisiest’ networks November 19th, 2014

Academic/Education

Rice's Naomi Halas to direct Smalley Institute: Optics pioneer will lead Rice's multidisciplinary science institute January 15th, 2015

SUNY Board Appoints Dr. Alain Kaloyeros as Founding President of SUNY Polytechnic Institute January 13th, 2015

CNSE's Smart System Technology & Commercialization Center Successfully Recertifies as ISO 9001:2008 January 12th, 2015

SUNY Poly Now Accepting Applications to the Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering for Fall 2015: Full Scholarships Available to Incoming CNSE Students January 7th, 2015

Materials/Metamaterials

Evidence mounts for quantum criticality theory: Findings bolster theory that quantum fluctuations drive strange electronic phenomena January 30th, 2015

Crystal light: New light-converting materials point to cheaper, more efficient solar power: University of Toronto engineers study first single crystal perovskites for new solar cell and LED applications January 30th, 2015

The Original Frameless Shower Doors Installs DFI's FuseCube™ to Offer Hydrophobic Protective Coating as a Standard Feature: First DFI FuseCube™ Installed on the East Coast to Enable Key Differentiator for the Original Frameless Shower Doors January 29th, 2015

Creating new materials with quantum effects for electronics January 29th, 2015

Announcements

Evidence mounts for quantum criticality theory: Findings bolster theory that quantum fluctuations drive strange electronic phenomena January 30th, 2015

Everything You Need To Know About Nanopesticides January 30th, 2015

DNA nanoswitches reveal how life's molecules connect: An accessible new way to study molecular interactions could lower cost and time associated with discovering new drugs January 30th, 2015

Crystal light: New light-converting materials point to cheaper, more efficient solar power: University of Toronto engineers study first single crystal perovskites for new solar cell and LED applications January 30th, 2015

Energy

Crystal light: New light-converting materials point to cheaper, more efficient solar power: University of Toronto engineers study first single crystal perovskites for new solar cell and LED applications January 30th, 2015

Los Alamos Develops New Technique for Growing High-Efficiency Perovskite Solar Cells: Researchers’ crystal-production insights resolve manufacturing difficulty January 29th, 2015

Carbon nanoballs can greatly contribute to sustainable energy supply January 27th, 2015

Iranian Researchers Boost Solar Cells Efficiency Using Anti-Aggregates January 26th, 2015

Fuel Cells

New concept of fuel cell for efficiency and environment: It grasps both performance efficiency and removal of toxic heavy metal ions in direct methanol fuel cells January 5th, 2015

Toward a low-cost 'artificial leaf' that produces clean hydrogen fuel December 3rd, 2014

Single-atom gold catalysts may offer path to low-cost production of fuel and chemicals November 28th, 2014

National Synchrotron Light Source II Achieves 'First Light' October 23rd, 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 1999-2015 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE