Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Hydrogen cars quickened by Copenhagen chemists

22.07.2013
Green cars

Climate friendly fuel cells for hydrogen cars have come one step closer. Researchers at the Department of Chemistry, University of Copenhagen, have shown how to build fuel cells that produce as much electricity as current models, but require markedly less of the rare and valuable precious metal platinum. Their discovery was published in the highly reputable periodical Nature Materials.

Cheaper hydrogen cars with new fuel cell design

Fuel cells ought to replace internal combustion engines in our cars. They are better for the climate and for the environment. Partly because fuel cells use the fuel much more efficiently. Partly because they emit no smoke, no smog, no CO2.

Unfortunately the fuel cells have a technical limitation. They only work if they contain the metal platinum which is less common and more costly than gold. This has been a considerable obstacle to the development of the energy efficient power generators.

"A marked reduction in platinum need is certainly realistic. And that will be a huge financial advantage!

Matthias Arenz
Associate professor
Department of Chemistry
University of Copenhagen
Reduced need for metal increases economic yield
Matthias Arenz is an associate professor at the Department of Chemistry, University of Copenhagen. In collaboration with researchers from the Technical University München and the Max Planck Institute for Iron Research in Düsseldorf he has built and tested a number of catalysts, the devices at the heart of a fuel cell. Arenz is confident that his discovery can show the way for economically viable fuel cell production.

In the lab we have shown, that we can generate the same amount of electricity with just a fifth of the platinum. We don't expect to do quite that well in an everyday situation, but a marked reduction in platinum need is certainly realistic. And that will be a huge financial advantage.

One of the most costly elements

The precious metal platinum is one of the rarest elements on earth. Most of it is to be found in South Africa, where 80 percent of world production is mined while Russia extracts another ten percent. This means that the metal is strategically important.

In 2012 world production was 179 metric tons. By comparison gold production was 2.700 tons. And while the cost of platinum in 2010 was 1.600 dollars per Troy Ounce gold sold at just 1.300 dollars for a Troy Ounce.

Sheets, particles or nanoparticles

Fuel cells produce electricity from hydrogen and oxygen in a so called catalytic reaction which is kept going by platinum. The greatest effect is achieved by flowing your gasses over a sheet or film of platinum but that requires large amounts of the costly element. Instead modern fuel cells are made with particles, little granules, of platinum. What the research in Arenz' group showed was, that these granules could be placed more efficiently.
Five times more electricity for every gram of metal

When tested in the laboratory, catalysts bought on the market today will produce around one Ampere for every milligram of metal. The Arenz group developed a fuel cell catalyst that got a whopping eight Ampere per milligram of platinum. Their initial instinct was that they got a bigger power yield, because they had used smaller granules of platinum. But careful measurement revealed something much more surprising.
Unexpected effect discovered by chance

The key factor leading to platinum savings might never have been discovered by the group. They had produced a number of catalysts with varying sizes of platinum particles. By chance the particles were very tightly packed on a few of the sample catalysts and as it turned out, the packing of the particles was much more significant than the size. An effect, that the researchers have dubbed the "Particle Proximity Effect".

Next step will be to develop a chemical method to produce tightly packed catalysts on an industrial scale. Arenz has a few ideas for that as well, so he and his group have started applying for grants.

Contact

Associate Professor Matthias Arenz
Telephone: +45 3532 0002
Press officer Jes Andersen
Cell Phone: +45 30506582

Matthias Arenz | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ku.dk

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Discovery of a Key Regulatory Gene in Cardiac Valve Formation
24.05.2017 | Universität Basel

nachricht Carcinogenic soot particles from GDI engines
24.05.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Physicists discover mechanism behind granular capillary effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Measured for the first time: Direction of light waves changed by quantum effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>