Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > ORNL Microscopy Generates New View of Fuel Cells

ORNL

A new ORNL microscopy technique allows researchers to study key reactions in fuel cells at an unprecedented scale. The overlay shows electrochemical activity of platinum (Pt) nanoparticles on an yttria-stabilized zirconia (YSZ) surface, revealing enhanced activity along the triple-phase boundaries (TPB).
ORNL

A new ORNL microscopy technique allows researchers to study key reactions in fuel cells at an unprecedented scale. The overlay shows electrochemical activity of platinum (Pt) nanoparticles on an yttria-stabilized zirconia (YSZ) surface, revealing enhanced activity along the triple-phase boundaries (TPB).

Abstract:
A novel microscopy method at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory is helping scientists probe the reactions that limit widespread deployment of fuel cell technologies.

ORNL Microscopy Generates New View of Fuel Cells

Oak Ridge, TN | Posted on August 15th, 2011

ORNL researchers applied a technique called electrochemical strain microscopy that enables them to examine the dynamics of oxygen reduction/evolution reactions in fuel cell materials, which may reveal ways to redesign or cut the costs of the energy devices. The team's findings were published in Nature Chemistry.

"If we can find a way to understand the operation of the fuel cell on the basic elementary level and determine what will make it work in the most optimum fashion, it would create an entirely new window of opportunity for the development of better materials and devices," said co-author Amit Kumar, a research scientist at ORNL's Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences.

Although fuel cells have long been touted as a highly efficient way to convert chemical energy into electrical energy, their high cost -- in large part due to the use of platinum as a catalyst -- has constrained commercial production and consumption.

Large amounts of platinum are used to catalyze the fuel cell's key reaction -- -the oxygen-reduction reaction, which controls the efficiency and longevity of the cell. Yet exactly how and where the reaction takes place had not been probed because existing device-level electrochemical techniques are ill suited to study the reaction at the nanoscale. ORNL co-author Sergei Kalinin explains that certain methods like electron microscopy had failed to capture the dynamics of fuel cell operation because their resolution was effectively too high.

"When you want to understand how a fuel cell works, you are not interested in where single atoms are, you're interested in how they move in nanometer scale volumes," Kalinin said. "The mobile ions in these solids behave almost like a liquid. They don't stay in place. The faster these mobile ions move, the better the material is for a fuel cell application. Electrochemical strain microscopy is able to image this ion mobility."

Other electrochemical techniques are unable to study oxygen-reduction reactions because they are limited to resolutions of 10's of microns - 10,000 times larger than a nanometer.

"If the reaction is controlled by microstructure features that are much finer than a micron, let's say grain boundaries or single extended defects that are affecting the reaction, then you will never be able to catch what is giving rise to reduced or enhanced functionality of the fuel cell," said ORNL's Stephen Jesse, builder of the ESM microscope. "You would like to do this probing on a scale where you can identify each of these defects and correlate the functionality of the cell with these defects."

Although this study mainly focuses on the introduction of a technique, researchers explain their approach as a much-needed bridge between a theoretical and applied understanding of fuel cells.

"There is a huge gap between fundamental science and applied science for energy-related devices like fuel cells and batteries," Kalinin said. "The semiconducting industry, for example, is developing exponentially because the link between application and basic science is very well established. This is not the case in energy systems. They are usually much more complicated than semiconductors and therefore a lot of development is driven by trial and error type of work."

Co-authors on the study are University of Heidelberg's Francesco Ciucci and Anna Morozovska from the National Academy of Science of Ukraine, whose theoretical analysis was critical in explaining the ESM measurements.

This research was conducted at the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences at ORNL. CNMS is one of the five DOE Nanoscale Science Research Centers supported by the DOE Office of Science, premier national user facilities for interdisciplinary research at the nanoscale. Together the NSRCs comprise a suite of complementary facilities that provide researchers with state-of-the-art capabilities to fabricate, process, characterize and model nanoscale materials, and constitute the largest infrastructure investment of the National Nanotechnology Initiative. The NSRCs are located at DOE's Argonne, Brookhaven, Lawrence Berkeley, Oak Ridge and Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories. For more information about the DOE NSRCs, please visit science.energy.gov/bes/suf/user-facilities/nanoscale-science-research-centers/.

ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy's Office of Science.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Morgan McCorkle
Communications and Media Relations
(865) 574-7308

Copyright © Oak Ridge 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

Composite Pipe Long Term Testing Facility February 10th, 2016

Scientists take nanoparticle snapshots February 10th, 2016

Chemical cages: New technique advances synthetic biology February 10th, 2016

New thin film transistor may lead to flexible devices: Researchers engineer an electronics first, opening door to flexible electronics February 10th, 2016

Nanoparticle therapy that uses LDL and fish oil kills liver cancer cells February 9th, 2016

Laboratories

Scientists take nanoparticle snapshots February 10th, 2016

Imaging

Scientists take nanoparticle snapshots February 10th, 2016

Making sense of metallic glass February 9th, 2016

Chemistry

Chemical cages: New technique advances synthetic biology February 10th, 2016

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Composite Pipe Long Term Testing Facility February 10th, 2016

Scientists take nanoparticle snapshots February 10th, 2016

New thin film transistor may lead to flexible devices: Researchers engineer an electronics first, opening door to flexible electronics February 10th, 2016

Making sense of metallic glass February 9th, 2016

Discoveries

Scientists take nanoparticle snapshots February 10th, 2016

Chemical cages: New technique advances synthetic biology February 10th, 2016

New thin film transistor may lead to flexible devices: Researchers engineer an electronics first, opening door to flexible electronics February 10th, 2016

Electron's 1-D metallic surface state observed: A step for the prediction of electronic properties of extremely-fine metal nanowires in next-generation semiconductors February 9th, 2016

Announcements

Composite Pipe Long Term Testing Facility February 10th, 2016

Scientists take nanoparticle snapshots February 10th, 2016

Chemical cages: New technique advances synthetic biology February 10th, 2016

New thin film transistor may lead to flexible devices: Researchers engineer an electronics first, opening door to flexible electronics February 10th, 2016

Tools

Scientists take nanoparticle snapshots February 10th, 2016

Making sense of metallic glass February 9th, 2016

Chiral magnetic effect generates quantum current: Separating left- and right-handed particles in a semi-metallic material produces anomalously high conductivity February 8th, 2016

Metal oxide sandwiches: New option to manipulate properties of interfaces February 8th, 2016

Energy

New thin film transistor may lead to flexible devices: Researchers engineer an electronics first, opening door to flexible electronics February 10th, 2016

Canadian physicists discover new properties of superconductivity February 8th, 2016

Host-guest nanowires for efficient water splitting and solar energy storage February 7th, 2016

February 4th, 2016

Fuel Cells

An alternative to platinum: Iron-nitrogen compounds as catalysts in graphene January 28th, 2016

Teijin to Participate in Nano Tech 2016 January 21st, 2016

Fuel cell advance: Research team reports success with low-cost nickel-based catalyst January 18th, 2016

Production of Graphene Oxide Nanosheets to Economize Fuel Cells January 1st, 2016

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







Car Brands
Buy website traffic