X

Sign Up To Our Free Newsletter

Join Now

Thanks for subscribing to our free newsletter!

ERROR

CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 74-89% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

  • 3 minutes Texas forced to have rolling brown outs. Not from downed power line , but because the wind energy turbines are frozen.
  • 7 minutes Scientists Warn That Filling The Sahara With Solar Panels Is A Bad Idea
  • 11 minutes United States LNG Exports Reach Third Place
  • 15 minutes Joe Biden's Presidency
  • 4 hours IS SAUDI ARABIA SENDING A MESSAGE TO BIDEN
  • 1 day America Makes Plans to Produce Needed Rare Earth Minerals Domestically
  • 8 hours Texas forced to have rolling black outs, primarily because of large declines in output from fossil fuel power plants
  • 1 day U.S. Presidential Elections Status - Electoral Votes
  • 3 days Former BP Exec "Biden not in war against oil" . . Really ?
  • 3 days Here we go - again: plug-in hybrids cost motorists more than what they were told
  • 3 days Texas Supply Chain Massacre
  • 1 day Top Conservative Lawyer Says Trump Can Stand Trial
  • 1 day “Cushing Oil Inventories Are Soaring Again” By Tsvetana Paraskova
  • 3 days An exciting development in EV Aviation: Volocopter
UAE Oil Major Turns To Hydrogen

UAE Oil Major Turns To Hydrogen

Adnoc, the Abu Dhabi state…

Russia Looks To Become Leader In Hydrogen Tech

Russia Looks To Become Leader In Hydrogen Tech

Russia's vast natural gas reserves…

Brian Westenhaus

Brian Westenhaus

Brian is the editor of the popular energy technology site New Energy and Fuel. The site’s mission is to inform, stimulate, amuse and abuse the…

More Info

Premium Content

Increasing the Efficiency of Platinum Use in Fuel Cells

Fuel cells are, for some, the nirvana of portable or mobile energy production.  But the problem of a catalyst that tears the hydrogen atom into the parts needed to generate electricity still bedevils the progress to widespread commercial marketability.

The best catalyst for efficiency is platinum, the rare, expensive, and beautiful silvery metal.  Other ideas are in research and some early claims are looking positive, but for now platinum is king.  If platinum is going to stay on top, how will costs be cut and longevity increased?

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.

The new work also addresses another catalyst problem.  A fuel cell is pretty much a steady state energy production device.  No throttle, instant powerup, power on demand or other customary variances that it would be needed for, particularly electric vehicle use.  The variance is going to need storage batteries or more likely capacitors for power bursts and energy recovery surges.  The sluggish sensation of fuel cells working alone isn’t going to make drivers happy at all.

Héctor Abruña, the E.M. Chamot Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology believes the Cornell work. “ . . . could be a real significant improvement. It enhances the catalysis and cuts down the cost by a factor of five.”

Related Article: Revolutionary Improvement Increases Lithium Ion Battery Capacity by 300%

In a hydrogen fuel cell, a catalyst at one electrode cracks 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.

Platinum Cobalt Coparticle at Cornell.
Platinum Cobalt Coparticle at Cornell.

The Cornell research team has previously 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.

Abruña explains 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”.

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.

Related Article: New Fuel Cell Catalyst Offers Very Cheap Alternative to Platinum

This innovation is absolutely key – the 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 supported in the lattice 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, decreasing the surface area they can offer to react with fuel.

After 5,000 on-off cycles of a test cell, catalytic activity of the Cornell ordered lattice 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.

Along with lead author Abruña, Wang and Xin 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.  Their paper, “Structurally Ordered Intermetallic Platinum–Cobalt Core–Shell Nanoparticles with Enhanced Activity and Stability as Oxygen Reduction Electrocatalysts” has been published in Nature Materials.

Lots of claims are being made on solving the fuel cell catalyst problem.  So far no commercial or mass production scale is taking place from the new ideas.  But the platinum fuel cell is known technology in manufacturing and if Abruña is right on a commercial application needing 80% less platinum, without a huge processing cost, fuel cells could find a much larger market.

By. Brian Westenhaus

Source: Making Platinum in Fuel Cells Go Further and Last Longer


Download The Free Oilprice App Today

Back to homepage





Leave a comment

Leave a comment




Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News