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 Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery
20.01.2017 | GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH

nachricht Seeking structure with metagenome sequences
20.01.2017 | DOE/Joint Genome Institute

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>