Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Catalysis research - TU Berlin receives more than one million dollars

16.09.2011
TU Berlin receives more than one million dollars in funding from the United States for catalysis research

"In the field of electromobility mainly research on lithium-ion battery technology has been promoted in the past years. But the limits of this technology become more and more obvious," states Peter Strasser, a professor for chemical engineering at the TU Berlin and member of the Cluster of Excellence "Unifying Concepts in Catalysis" (UniCat).

"Thereby the idea of hydrogen based e-mobility slowly returns to the center of attention. In this technology a fuel cell, acting as an energy converter, feeds the electrical motor. Conceivably a fuel cell could also be used as a kind of ‘range extender’ - thus as an additional device to increase the cruising range – interacting with a Li-battery."

His research team constitutes part of a high-profile project of the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE), which researches new nano-structured materials. The researchers aim to make the catalytic conversion of hydrogen and oxygen into usable electricity in fuel cells more efficient and less costly. The DoE recently approved a total of 5.3 million U.S. dollars in funding for the next three years, of which approximately $ 1.5 million will go to the TU Berlin.

The TU team works closely with two industrial partners and three academic institutions, namely the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Northeastern University and George Washington University.

Hydrogen fuel cells use molecular hydrogen to store energy. Their density is almost 200 times higher than that of a Li-ion battery. In the drive mechanism of the hydrogen-based fuel cell the chemical energy of hydrogen is converted into electrical energy. Although the practical conversion efficiency currently is only about 50 percent, an electric car requires only about six kilograms of hydrogen for a 450 km range, and refueling takes only six minutes. On the other hand, a typical Li-ion battery weighs at least 200 kilograms, takes six to nine hours for loading and provides only enough energy for a range of 200 km. In addition, if the vehicle is solely battery powered it has to be air-conditioned electrically because there is no waste heat. This again can significantly reduce the range.

"When comparing the costs, the fuel cell also scores much better," declares Strasser. "Li-ion batteries currently cost about 300 € per kilowatt hour. In a typical-sized vehicle a range of 200 kilometers amounts to about 12,000 €. Comparable performance characteristics with a fuel cell of the latest generation cost around 5,000 €; in this case the range naturally depends on the size of the tank, not of the fuel cell. "What makes fuel cells expensive is, above all, the precious metal platinum which is used as a catalyst in nanostructured form. Peter Strasser and his colleagues in the joint project want to reduce exactly this part of the costs. So far, 0.8 grams of platinum were needed per kilowatt. The scientists want to reduce this amount to 0.1 grams per kilowatt. At a platinum price of about € 40 per gram, the platinum catalyst would then only make up 400 € of the fuel cell costs. A comparable amount of platinum is currently used in each exhaust catalyst.

The work group led by Professor Strasser has been working on a new family of nanostructured fuel cell catalysts since 2005. They consist of a platinum-poor core surrounded by a thin platinum-rich shell. In the first place this reduces the required amount of platinum; secondly, the platinum-rich shell catalyzes the chemical processes far better than pure platinum. However, the life expectancy of the material during ongoing fuel cell operation is still a challenge. Strasser and his team are looking for ways to stabilize the core-shell configuration with new carrier materials, mainly nitrogen-containing carbon, but also by adding additional metal particles in the nucleus.

"In this international collaborative project the construction of new nanomaterials and the basic electrochemical characterization in fuel cells promote interdisciplinary links between large-scale research facilities, such as ‘Bessy II' in Berlin or the Brookhaven National Laboratory in the U.S., with modern X-ray based inspection methods. The project also reflects the importance of the current research area of ‘energy materials’," explains Peter Strasser. "If we are successful with this technique, this project can severely accelerate the expanding commercialization of fuel cell technology."

"Unifying Concepts in Catalysis" (UniCat) is the sole Cluster of Excellence in Germany researching the economically important field of catalysis. More than 250 chemists, physicists, biologists and engineers from four universities and two Max Planck research institutes from Berlin and Potsdam are involved in this interdisciplinary research network. The Cluster is hosted by the Technische Universität Berlin. UniCat receives funding of approximately € 5.6 million each year as part of the Excellence Initiative of the German Research Foundation.

For further information please contact: Prof. Dr. Peter Strasser, Technische Universität Berlin, School II Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Department of Chemistry, Chair of Chemical Engineering, Phone: +49 (0)30 314-29542, Email: pstrasser@tu-berlin.de

Stefanie Terp | idw
Further information:
http://www.tu-berlin.de

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New risk factors for anxiety disorders
24.02.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers
24.02.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>