Having pioneered the development of the first high-performance iron-based catalyst for fuel cells, researchers at INRS recently achieved a second major advance. They developed a new and improved iron-based catalyst capable of generating even more electric power in fuel cells for transportation applications. Previously, only platinum-based catalysts could produce similar performance.
The new research findings from the team of Professor Jean-Pol Dodelet were published in Nature Communications, a prestigious scientific journal part of the Nature Publishing Group. With these new and promising results, we bolster the prospect of iron-based catalysts replacing platinum ones in the electrochemical reduction of oxygen, one of two reactions needed to activate the electric power generator we call a fuel cell. Platinum is rare and very costly, whereas iron is the second most abundant metal on earth and is inexpensive.
"Thanks to this breakthrough we are nearing the day when we will be able to drive electric-electric hybrid vehicles —i.e. battery and fuel cell powered—, which can potentially free us from our current dependence on oil to power our cars," said Professor Dodelet.
Working at the Énergie Matériaux Télécommunications Research Centre in Varennes (Québec), INRS scientists are now focusing on the improvement of the long-term stability (at least 5,000 hours) of these promising new catalysts. "The next step is the most important because it will automatically lead to a high value commercial product, not only for car manufacturers but also for all industrial sectors that use electric power generators or manufacture their components," explained Mr. Dodelet.
Institut national de recherche scientifique (INRS) is a graduate and post-graduate research and training university. One of Canada's leading research universities in terms of grants per professor, INRS brings together some 150 professors and close to 700 students and postdoctoral fellows in its centers in Montreal, Quebec City, Laval, and Varennes. Conducting fundamental research essential to the advancement of science in Quebec as well as internationally, INRS research teams also play a critical role in developing concrete solutions to problems facing our society.
Marc Lalancette | EurekAlert!
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