Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Mystery surrounding non-platinum catalysts for fuel cell technologies solved

22.01.2016

 persistent controversy in catalysts for fuel cells has just been solved by a team of researchers from the Faculty of Pure and Applied Sciences at the University of Tsukuba.

The oxygen reduction reaction is a key step in the operation of fuel cells, but depends on expensive precious metal-based catalysts. Carbon-based catalysts with added nitrogen are among the most promising alternatives to precious metals, and could allow more widespread use of fuel cell technology. However, until now, the arrangement of nitrogen and carbon that gave the catalytic effect remained a mystery, stalling efforts to develop more effective materials.


Patterning nitrogen-doped graphite to create many edges also increases the amount of pyridinic nitrogen present. Carbon atoms adjacent to pyridinic nitrogen behave as the active site for oxygen reduction, which is a key process in fuel cell technologies.

Credit: University of Tsukuba

In an article published this week in Science, a team of researchers from the University of Tsukuba identified the catalytic structure and proposed a mechanism by which the reaction works. "We knew that nitrogen-doped carbon was a good oxygen reduction catalyst, but no one was sure whether the nitrogen was pyridinic or graphitic," said corresponding author Prof. Junji Nakamura.

To solve the mystery, the team fabricated four model catalyst substrates, which simulated competing potential structures and analyzed their reaction performance. Pyridinic nitrogen, or nitrogen atoms bonded to two carbon atoms, occur mainly at the edges of the material. By patterning the substrates to change the number of edges, the team could control the presence of pyridinic nitrogen and measure how it affected the catalytic performance. These results showed that the active catalytic sites were associated with pyridinic nitrogen.

Taking the research a step further, the investigators then proposed the various stages of the reaction mechanism after finding that it was actually the carbon atom next to the nitrogen that was the active site rather than the nitrogen atom itself. As the corresponding author Prof. Nakamura noted: "Clarifying the active site and mechanism is a great step forward and will allow optimization studies to focus on driving up catalyst performance."

Media Contact

Masataka Watanabe
kohositu@un.tsukuba.ac.jp
81-298-532-039

http://un.tsukuba.ac.jp

Masataka Watanabe | EurekAlert!

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Mat4Rail: EU Research Project on the Railway of the Future
23.02.2018 | Universität Bremen

nachricht Atomic structure of ultrasound material not what anyone expected
21.02.2018 | North Carolina State University

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Attoseconds break into atomic interior

A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.

In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...

Im Focus: Good vibrations feel the force

A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.

By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Basque researchers turn light upside down

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator

23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Attoseconds break into atomic interior

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>