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

DNA triggers shape-shifting in hydrogels, opening a new way to make 'soft robots' September 21st, 2017

Physicists develop new recipes for design of fast single-photon gun Physicists develop high-speed single-photon sources for quantum computers of the future September 21st, 2017

GLOBALFOUNDRIES Announces Availability of mmWave and RF/Analog on Leading FDX™ FD-SOI Technology Platform: Technology solution delivers ‘connected intelligence’ to next generation high-volume wireless and IoT applications with lower power and significantly reduced cost September 20th, 2017

GLOBALFOUNDRIES Announces Availability of Embedded MRAM on Leading 22FDX® FD-SOI Platform: Advanced embedded non-volatile memory solution delivers ‘connected intelligence’ by expanding SoC capabilities on the 22nm process node September 20th, 2017

Chemistry

Copper catalyst yields high efficiency CO2-to-fuels conversion: Berkeley Lab scientists discover critical role of nanoparticle transformation September 20th, 2017

Chemical hot spots: Scanning tunneling microscopy measurements identify active sites on catalyst surfaces September 7th, 2017

More durable, less expensive fuel cells: University of Delaware researchers have developed a new technology that could speed up the commercialization of fuel cell vehicles September 5th, 2017

Research shows how DNA molecules cross nanopores: Study could inform biosensors, manufacturing, and more September 5th, 2017

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

DNA triggers shape-shifting in hydrogels, opening a new way to make 'soft robots' September 21st, 2017

Copper catalyst yields high efficiency CO2-to-fuels conversion: Berkeley Lab scientists discover critical role of nanoparticle transformation September 20th, 2017

Solar-to-fuel system recycles CO2 to make ethanol and ethylene: Berkeley Lab advance is first demonstration of efficient, light-powered production of fuel via artificial photosynthesis September 19th, 2017

New insights into nanocrystal growth in liquid: Understanding process that creates complex crystals important for energy applications September 14th, 2017

Discoveries

DNA triggers shape-shifting in hydrogels, opening a new way to make 'soft robots' September 21st, 2017

Physicists develop new recipes for design of fast single-photon gun Physicists develop high-speed single-photon sources for quantum computers of the future September 21st, 2017

Copper catalyst yields high efficiency CO2-to-fuels conversion: Berkeley Lab scientists discover critical role of nanoparticle transformation September 20th, 2017

Solar-to-fuel system recycles CO2 to make ethanol and ethylene: Berkeley Lab advance is first demonstration of efficient, light-powered production of fuel via artificial photosynthesis September 19th, 2017

Announcements

DNA triggers shape-shifting in hydrogels, opening a new way to make 'soft robots' September 21st, 2017

Physicists develop new recipes for design of fast single-photon gun Physicists develop high-speed single-photon sources for quantum computers of the future September 21st, 2017

GLOBALFOUNDRIES Introduces New 12nm FinFET Technology for High-Performance Applications September 20th, 2017

Copper catalyst yields high efficiency CO2-to-fuels conversion: Berkeley Lab scientists discover critical role of nanoparticle transformation September 20th, 2017

Energy

Copper catalyst yields high efficiency CO2-to-fuels conversion: Berkeley Lab scientists discover critical role of nanoparticle transformation September 20th, 2017

Solar-to-fuel system recycles CO2 to make ethanol and ethylene: Berkeley Lab advance is first demonstration of efficient, light-powered production of fuel via artificial photosynthesis September 19th, 2017

Insect eyes inspire new solar cell design from Stanford August 31st, 2017

The power of perovskite: OIST researchers improve perovskite-based technology in the entire energy cycle, from solar cells harnessing power to LED diodes to light the screens of future electronic devices and other lighting applications August 18th, 2017

Automotive/Transportation

GLOBALFOUNDRIES Announces Availability of Embedded MRAM on Leading 22FDX® FD-SOI Platform: Advanced embedded non-volatile memory solution delivers ‘connected intelligence’ by expanding SoC capabilities on the 22nm process node September 20th, 2017

GLOBALFOUNDRIES Introduces New 12nm FinFET Technology for High-Performance Applications September 20th, 2017

More durable, less expensive fuel cells: University of Delaware researchers have developed a new technology that could speed up the commercialization of fuel cell vehicles September 5th, 2017

High-tech electronics made from autumn leaves: New process converts biomass waste into useful electronic devices August 30th, 2017

Fuel Cells

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

More durable, less expensive fuel cells: University of Delaware researchers have developed a new technology that could speed up the commercialization of fuel cell vehicles September 5th, 2017

Engineers pioneer platinum shell formation process – and achieve first-ever observation August 11th, 2017

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