Researcher Zhong Wang shows a selection of rare earth oxide materials that are being studied for possible use in the production of small-scale quantities of hydrogen for powering fuel cells.
Georgia Tech Photo: Gary Meek
Oxides of three rare earth materials are being studied for possible use in the production of small-scale quantities of hydrogen for powering fuel cells.
Georgia Tech Photo: Gary Meek
A unique group of oxide materials that readily gives up and accepts oxygen atoms with changes in temperature could be the basis for a small-scale hydrogen production system able to power fuel cells in homes -- and potentially in automotive applications.
Scientists have long known that oxides of the rare earth elements cerium (Ce), terbium (Tb), and praseodymium (Pr) can produce hydrogen from water vapor and methane in continuous "inhale and exhale" cycles. By doping iron atoms into the oxides, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have lowered the temperatures at which these "oxygen pump" materials produce hydrogen, potentially allowing the process to be powered by solar energy.
"This is a new approach for producing hydrogen that has several advantages compared to conventional production technology," said Zhong L. Wang, a professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Materials Science and Engineering and director of the Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology. "For some applications, particularly those in the home, this could provide an alternative way to supply hydrogen for small-scale fuel cells."
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