Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Brown Chemists Create More Efficient Palladium Fuel Cell Catalysts

Two Brown University chemists have overcome a challenge to fuel cell reactions using palladium catalysts. The scientists produced palladium nanoparticles with about 40 percent greater active surface area than commercially available palladium particles, and the nanoparticles remain intact four times longer. Results appear in the online edition of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Even small devices need power, and much of that juice comes from fuel cells. As these devices become even smaller, the rush is on to find more efficient ways to power them.

In the last several years, scientists have discovered that palladium, a metal, is a strong candidate for providing that initial boost that helps fuel cells go. Palladium is far cheaper than another popular fuel cell catalyst, platinum, and it’s more abundant.

But researchers have wrestled with creating palladium nanoparticles with enough active surface area to make catalysis efficient in fuel cells while preventing particles from clumping together during the chemical processes that convert a fuel source to electricity. Two Brown University chemists have found a way to overcome those challenges.

The scientists report in the online edition of the Journal of the American Chemical Society that they have produced palladium nanoparticles with about 40 percent greater surface area than commercially available palladium particles. The Brown catalysts also remain intact four times longer than what’s currently available.

“This approach is very novel. It works,” said Vismadeb Mazumder, a graduate student who joined chemistry professor Shouheng Sun on the paper. “It’s two times as active, meaning you need half the energy to catalyze. And it’s four times as stable.”

Mazumder and Sun created palladium nanoparticles 4.5 nanometers in size. They attached the nanoparticles to a carbon platform at the anode end of a direct formic acid fuel cell. The researchers then did something new: They used weak binding amino ligands to keep the palladium nanoparticles separate and at the same size as they’re attached to the carbon platform. By keeping the particles separate and uniform in size, they increased the available surface area on the platform and raised the efficiency of the fuel cell reaction.

“It just works better,” Sun said.

What’s also special about the ligands is that they can be “washed” from the carbon platform without jeopardizing the integrity of the separated palladium nanoparticles. This is an important step, Mazumder emphasized, because previous attempts to remove binding ingredients have caused the particles to lose their rigid sizes and clump together, which gums up the reaction.

The Brown team said in experiments lasting 12 hours, their catalysts lost 16 percent of its surface area, compared to a 64-percent loss in surface area in commercial catalysts.

“We managed to ebb the decay of our catalyst by our approach,” said Mazumder, who is in his second year in Sun’s lab. “We made high-quality palladium nanoparticles, put them efficiently on a support, then removed them from the stabilizers efficiently without distorting catalyst quality.”

The Brown scientists now are looking at various palladium-based catalysts with enhanced activity and stability for future fuel cell applications.

“We want to make it cheaper with analogous activity,” Mazumder said.

The research was funded by the Division of Materials Research of the National Science Foundation and a Brown seed fund.

Richard Lewis | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>