Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Say Hello to Cheaper Hydrogen Fuel Cells: Los Alamos scientists document utility of non-precious-metal catalysts

Abstract:
Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists have developed a way to avoid the use of expensive platinum in hydrogen fuel cells, the environmentally friendly devices that might replace current power sources in everything from personal data devices to automobiles.

Say Hello to Cheaper Hydrogen Fuel Cells: Los Alamos scientists document utility of non-precious-metal catalysts

Los Alamos, NM | Posted on April 22nd, 2011

In a paper published today in Science, Los Alamos researchers Gang Wu, Christina Johnston, and Piotr Zelenay, joined by researcher Karren More of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, describe the use of a platinum-free catalyst in the cathode of a hydrogen fuel cell. Eliminating platinum—a precious metal more expensive than gold—would solve a significant economic challenge that has thwarted widespread use of large-scale hydrogen fuel cell systems.

Polymer-electrolyte hydrogen fuel cells convert hydrogen and oxygen into electricity. The cells can be enlarged and combined in series for high-power applications, including automobiles. Under optimal conditions, the hydrogen fuel cell produces water as a "waste" product and does not emit greenhouse gasses. However, because the use of platinum in catalysts is necessary to facilitate the reactions that produce electricity within a fuel cell, widespread use of fuel cells in common applications has been cost prohibitive. An increase in the demand for platinum-based catalysts could drive up the cost of platinum even higher than its current value of nearly $1,800 an ounce.

The Los Alamos researchers developed non-precious-metal catalysts for the part of the fuel cell that reacts with oxygen. The catalysts—which use carbon (partially derived from polyaniline in a high-temperature process), and inexpensive iron and cobalt instead of platinum—yielded high power output, good efficiency, and promising longevity. The researchers found that fuel cells containing the carbon-iron-cobalt catalyst synthesized by Wu not only generated currents comparable to the output of precious-metal-catalyst fuel cells, but held up favorably when cycled on and off—a condition that can damage inferior catalysts relatively quickly.

Moreover, the carbon-iron-cobalt catalyst fuel cells effectively completed the conversion of hydrogen and oxygen into water, rather than producing large amounts of undesirable hydrogen peroxide. Inefficient conversion of the fuels, which generates hydrogen peroxide, can reduce power output by up to 50 percent, and also has the potential to destroy fuel cell membranes. Fortunately, the carbon- iron-cobalt catalysts synthesized at Los Alamos create extremely small amounts of hydrogen peroxide, even when compared with state-of-the-art platinum-based oxygen-reduction catalysts.

Because of the successful performance of the new catalyst, the Los Alamos researchers have filed a patent for it.

"The encouraging point is that we have found a catalyst with a good durability and life cycle relative to platinum-based catalysts," said Zelenay, corresponding author for the paper. "For all intents and purposes, this is a zero-cost catalyst in comparison to platinum, so it directly addresses one of the main barriers to hydrogen fuel cells."

The next step in the team's research will be to better understand the mechanism underlying the carbon-iron-cobalt catalyst. Micrographic images of portions of the catalyst by researcher More have provided some insight into how it functions, but further work must be done to confirm theories by the research team. Such an understanding could lead to improvements in non-precious-metal catalysts, further increasing their efficiency and lifespan.

Project funding for the Los Alamos research came from the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Office as well as from Los Alamos National Laboratory's Laboratory-Directed Research and Development program. Microscopy research was done at Oak Ridge National Laboratory's SHaRE user facility with support from the DOE's Office of Basic Energy Sciences.

####

About Los Alamos National Laboratory
Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), a multidisciplinary research institution engaged in strategic science on behalf of national security, is operated by Los Alamos National Security, LLC, a team composed of Bechtel National, the University of California, The Babcock & Wilcox Company, and URS for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

LANL enhances national security by ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, developing technologies to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction, and solving problems related to energy, environment, infrastructure, health, and global security concerns.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
JAMES E. RICKMAN
505-665-9203

Copyright © Los Alamos 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.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Getting electrons to move in a semiconductor: Gallium oxide shows high electron mobility, making it promising for better and cheaper devices April 24th, 2018

JPK reports on research of the Mestroni Lab at the University of Colorado Denver which use the JPK NanoWizard® AFM to help in the characterization of cardiomyopathies April 24th, 2018

Organic solar cells reach record efficiency, benchmark for commercialization April 23rd, 2018

Remote-control shoots laser at nano-gold to turn on cancer-killing immune cells April 20th, 2018

Discoveries

Getting electrons to move in a semiconductor: Gallium oxide shows high electron mobility, making it promising for better and cheaper devices April 24th, 2018

JPK reports on research of the Mestroni Lab at the University of Colorado Denver which use the JPK NanoWizard® AFM to help in the characterization of cardiomyopathies April 24th, 2018

Organic solar cells reach record efficiency, benchmark for commercialization April 23rd, 2018

Remote-control shoots laser at nano-gold to turn on cancer-killing immune cells April 20th, 2018

Announcements

Getting electrons to move in a semiconductor: Gallium oxide shows high electron mobility, making it promising for better and cheaper devices April 24th, 2018

JPK reports on research of the Mestroni Lab at the University of Colorado Denver which use the JPK NanoWizard® AFM to help in the characterization of cardiomyopathies April 24th, 2018

Organic solar cells reach record efficiency, benchmark for commercialization April 23rd, 2018

Remote-control shoots laser at nano-gold to turn on cancer-killing immune cells April 20th, 2018

Energy

Organic solar cells reach record efficiency, benchmark for commercialization April 23rd, 2018

Psst! A whispering gallery for light boosts solar cells April 14th, 2018

High efficiency solar power conversion allowed by a novel composite material: A composite thin film developed at INRS improves significantly solar cells' power conversion efficiency April 10th, 2018

Light 'relaxes' crystal to boost solar cell efficiency: Rice, Los Alamos discovery advances case for perovskite-based solar cells April 6th, 2018

Automotive/Transportation

HTA to Present European Strategy for Competitive Micro- and Nanotechnologies & Smart Systems: Special Event in Brussels on April 24 Gathers Research Institutes’ CEOs, European Commissioners and Key European Industrials April 17th, 2018

CAP-XX Develops Industry’s First 3 Volt Thin Prismatic Supercapacitors: Provides peak power support to 3V coin cell batteries and eliminates need for 2.7V LDO regulator for less expensive, smaller, more energy-efficient designs with extended battery life April 11th, 2018

Mapping battery materials with atomic precision: Berkeley Lab researchers map the atoms of battery materials and explored how composition affects structure March 8th, 2018

GLOBALFOUNDRIES Strengthens 22FDX® eMRAM Platform with eVaderis’ Ultra-low Power MCU Reference Design: Co-developed technology solution enables significant power and die size reductions for IoT and wearable products February 27th, 2018

Fuel Cells

A new way to find better battery materials: Design principles could point to better electrolytes for next-generation lithium batteries March 29th, 2018

Rice sleuths find metal in 'metal-free' catalysts: Study of graphene catalysts finds trace of manganese, suggests better ultrathin fuel-cell components February 26th, 2018

Study boosts hope for cheaper fuel cells: Rice University researchers show how to optimize nanomaterials for fuel-cell cathodes January 6th, 2018

Hydrogen power moves a step closer: Physicists are developing methods of creating renewable fuel from water using quantum technology September 15th, 2017

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



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project