Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > 'Ordered' catalyst boosts fuel cell output at lower cost

Provided
Electron microscope image of a platinum-cobalt alloy nanoparticle, showing the arrangement of the metal atoms into an ordered lattice. A smaller particle overlaps the large one at the bottom. Yellow arrows indicate the three layers of platinum atoms on the surface.
Provided

Electron microscope image of a platinum-cobalt alloy nanoparticle, showing the arrangement of the metal atoms into an ordered lattice. A smaller particle overlaps the large one at the bottom. Yellow arrows indicate the three layers of platinum atoms on the surface.

Abstract:
Fuel cells, which convert fuel directly into electricity without burning it, promise a less polluted future where cars run on pure hydrogen and exhaust nothing but water vapor. But the catalysts that make them work are still "sluggish" and worse, expensive.

'Ordered' catalyst boosts fuel cell output at lower cost

Ithaca, NY | Posted on November 1st, 2012

By Bill Steele

A research team at the Cornell Energy Materials Center has taken an important step forward with a chemical process that creates platinum-cobalt nanoparticles with a platinum enriched shell that show improved catalytic activity. "This could be a real significant improvement. It enhances the catalysis and cuts down the cost by a factor of five," said Héctor Abruña, the E.M. Chamot Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, senior author of a paper describing the work in the Oct. 28 issue of the journal Nature Materials. Co-authors include Francis DiSalvo, the John Newman Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, and David Muller, professor of applied and engineering physics and co-director of the Kavli Institute at Cornell for Nanoscale Science.

In a hydrogen fuel cell, a catalyst at one electrode breaks hydrogen atoms into their component protons and electrons. The electrons travel through an external circuit to create an electric current to the other electrode, where a second catalyst combines the incoming electrons, free protons and oxygen to form water. In current commercial fuel cells, that catalyst is pure platinum, which is scarce and expensive. Researchers have tried substituting platinum alloys with varying degrees of success. Previously, the Cornell research team created nanoparticles of a palladium-cobalt alloy coated with a thin layer of platinum that worked like pure platinum at lower cost. Forming the catalyst as nanoparticles -- typically about 5 nanometers in diameter and distributed on a carbon support -- provides more surface area to react with the fuel.

Computer simulations of the catalytic reaction predicted that there should be an increase in catalytic activity if the platinum atoms are pushed a bit together or "strained," as Abruña describes it. Deli Wang, a post-doctoral researcher in Abruña's group, devised a new chemical process to manufacture nanoparticles of a platinum-cobalt alloy that included an annealing (heating) step, where the randomly distributed atoms in the alloy form an orderly crystal structure. Rather than just being jumbled together, the metal atoms arrange themselves in an orderly lattice. Platinum atoms layered onto these particles line up with the lattice and are pushed closer together than they would be in pure platinum, with the resulting "strain" enhancing the catalytic activity. Huolin Xin, a graduate student in Muller's group, used a scanning tunneling electron microscope to confirm the structure.

In preliminary tests the new nanoparticles to showed about three and a half times higher catalytic activity (measured by current flow) than similar particles with a disordered core, and more than 12 times more than pure platinum. The new catalysts also are more durable. Fuel cell catalysts lose their effectiveness as platinum atoms are oxidized away or as nanoparticles clump together, deceasing the surface area they can offer to react with fuel. After 5,000 on-off cycles of a test cell, catalytic activity of the ordered nanoparticles remained steady, while that of similar cobalt-platinum nanoparticles with a disordered core rapidly fell off. The ordered structure is more stable, Abruña said. The platinum skin may be bonded more strongly to the ordered core than to the disordered alloy, so it would be less likely to fuse with the platinum on other nanoparticles to cause clumping. "We have not gone beyond 5,000 cycles but the results up to that point look very, very good," he said.

The Energy Materials Center at Cornell is an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Media Contact:
John Carberry
(607) 255-5553

Cornell Chronicle:
Bill Steele
(607) 255-7164

Copyright © Cornell University

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

The first light atomic nucleus with a second face July 20th, 2017

Semiliquid chains pulled out of a sea of microparticles July 20th, 2017

Tokyo Institute of Technology research: Antiaromatic molecule displays record electrical conductance July 19th, 2017

Harnessing light to drive chemical reactions July 19th, 2017

Chemistry

Tokyo Institute of Technology research: Antiaromatic molecule displays record electrical conductance July 19th, 2017

Harnessing light to drive chemical reactions July 19th, 2017

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

The first light atomic nucleus with a second face July 20th, 2017

Semiliquid chains pulled out of a sea of microparticles July 20th, 2017

Here's a tip: Indented cement shows unique properties: Rice University models reveal nanoindentation can benefit crystals in concrete July 20th, 2017

Harnessing light to drive chemical reactions July 19th, 2017

Discoveries

The first light atomic nucleus with a second face July 20th, 2017

Semiliquid chains pulled out of a sea of microparticles July 20th, 2017

Here's a tip: Indented cement shows unique properties: Rice University models reveal nanoindentation can benefit crystals in concrete July 20th, 2017

Harnessing light to drive chemical reactions July 19th, 2017

Announcements

Probiotics: Novel biosynthetic tool to develop metallic nanoparticles: This research article by Dr. Nida Akhtar et al has been published in Recent Patents on Drug Delivery & Formulation, Volume 11, Issue 1, 2017 July 20th, 2017

The first light atomic nucleus with a second face July 20th, 2017

Semiliquid chains pulled out of a sea of microparticles July 20th, 2017

Here's a tip: Indented cement shows unique properties: Rice University models reveal nanoindentation can benefit crystals in concrete July 20th, 2017

Energy

'Upconverted' light has a bright future: Rice University professor developing plasmon-powered devices for medicine, security, solar cells July 17th, 2017

Making two out of one: FAU researchers have explained the mechanism behind a process that can increase the efficiency of organic solar cells July 12th, 2017

Argonne National Laboratory’s Continuous ALD Technology Licensed Exclusively to Forge Nano July 7th, 2017

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

Automotive/Transportation

Nanotech Advances Future Mobile Devices and Wearable Technology July 5th, 2017

Leti’s Autonomous-Vehicle System Embedded in Infineon’s AURIX Platform: Leti’s Low-Power, Multi-Sensor System that Transforms Distance Data into Clear Information About the Driving Environment Will Be Demonstrated at ITS Meeting in Strasbourg, June 19-22 June 20th, 2017

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

GLOBALFOUNDRIES Launches 7nm ASIC Platform for Data Center, Machine Learning, and 5G Networks FX-7TM offering leverages the company’s 7nm: FinFET process to deliver best in class IP and Solutions June 13th, 2017

Fuel Cells

Argonne National Laboratory’s Continuous ALD Technology Licensed Exclusively to Forge Nano July 7th, 2017

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

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