“Fuel cells are capable of directly converting fuel into electricity,” says UWM Professor Junhong Chen, who created the nanorods and is testing them with Assistant Professor Zhen (Jason) He. “With fuel cells, electrical power from renewable energy sources can be delivered where and when required, cleanly, efficiently and sustainably.”The scientists also found that the nanorod catalyst outperformed a graphene-based alternative being developed elsewhere. In fact, the pair tested the material against two other contenders to replace platinum and found the nanorods’ performance consistently superior over a six-month period.
The work was published in March in the journal Advanced Materials ("Nitrogen-Enriched Core-Shell Structured Fe/Fe3C-C Nanorods as Advanced Catalysts for Oxygen Reduction Reaction").The right recipe
On the cathode side, the most important reaction in MFCs is the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR). Platinum speeds this slow reaction, increasing efficiency of the cell, but it is expensive.
When the nanorods were tested for potential use in MECs, the material did a better job than the graphene-based catalyst material, but it was still not as efficient as platinum.
“But it shows that there could be more diverse applications for this material, compared to graphene,” says He. “And it gave us clues for why the nanorods performed differently in MECs.”
Research with MECs was published in June in the journal Nano Energy ("Carbon/Iron-based Nanorod Catalysts for Hydrogen Production in Microbial Electrolysis Cells").
Zhen (Jason) He, UWM assistant professor of civil engineering, 414-229-5846, firstname.lastname@example.org
Zhen (Jason) He | Newswise Science News
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