Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Catalyst advance could lead to economical fuel cells

31.08.2018

Researchers at Washington State University have developed a new way to make low-cost, single-atom catalysts for fuel cells -- an advance that could make important clean energy technology more economically viable.

Their work is published in the Advanced Energy Materials journal.

Hydrogen fuel cells are critical for the clean energy economy as they are more than two times as efficient at creating electricity than polluting combustion engines. Their only waste product is water.


Schematic illustration of single-atom catalyst anchored on porous carbon.

Credit: WSU

However, the high price of the platinum-based catalysts that are used for the chemical reaction in fuel cells significantly hinders their commercialization.

Instead of the rare platinum, researchers would like to use nonprecious metals, such as iron or cobalt. But reactions with these abundantly available metals tend to stop working after a short time.

"Low-cost catalysts with high activity and stability are critical for the commercialization of the fuel cells." said Qiurong Shi, postdoctoral researcher in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering (MME) and a co-first author on the paper.

Recently, researchers have developed single-atom catalysts that work as well in the laboratory setting as using precious metals. The researchers have been able to improve the stability and activity of the nonprecious metals by working with them at the nanoscale as single-atom catalysts.

In this new work, the WSU research team, led by Yuehe Lin, an MME professor, used iron or cobalt salts and the small molecule glucosamine as precursors in a straightforward high temperature process to create the single-atom catalysts. The process can significantly lower the cost of the catalysts and could be easily scaled up for production.

The iron-carbon catalysts they developed were more stable than commercial platinum catalysts. They also maintained good activity and didn't become contaminated, which is often a problem with common metals.

"This process has many advantages," said Chengzhou Zhu, a first author on the paper who developed the high temperature process. "It makes large-scale production feasible, and it allows us to increase the number and boost the reactivity of active sites on the catalyst."

Lin's group collaborated on the project with Scott Beckman, an MME associate professor at WSU, as well as with researchers at Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory and Brookhaven National Laboratory for materials characterization.

"The advanced materials characterization user facility at the national laboratories revealed the single-atom sites and active moieties of the catalysts, which led to the better design of the catalysts," said Lin.

Media Contact

Yuehe Lin
yuehe.lin@wsu.edu
509-335-8523

 @WSUNews

http://www.wsu.edu 

Yuehe Lin | EurekAlert!
Further information:
https://news.wsu.edu/2018/08/30/catalyst-advance-lead-economical-fuel-cells
http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/aenm.201801956

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Elusive compounds of greenhouse gas isolated by Warwick chemists
18.09.2019 | University of Warwick

nachricht Study gives clues to the origin of Huntington's disease, and a new way to find drugs
18.09.2019 | Rockefeller University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Happy hour for time-resolved crystallography

Researchers from the Department of Atomically Resolved Dynamics of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg, the University of Hamburg and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) outstation in the city have developed a new method to watch biomolecules at work. This method dramatically simplifies starting enzymatic reactions by mixing a cocktail of small amounts of liquids with protein crystals. Determination of the protein structures at different times after mixing can be assembled into a time-lapse sequence that shows the molecular foundations of biology.

The functions of biomolecules are determined by their motions and structural changes. Yet it is a formidable challenge to understand these dynamic motions.

Im Focus: Modular OLED light strips

At the International Symposium on Automotive Lighting 2019 (ISAL) in Darmstadt from September 23 to 25, 2019, the Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, a provider of research and development services in the field of organic electronics, will present OLED light strips of any length with additional functionalities for the first time at booth no. 37.

Almost everyone is familiar with light strips for interior design. LED strips are available by the metre in DIY stores around the corner and are just as often...

Im Focus: Tomorrow´s coolants of choice

Scientists assess the potential of magnetic-cooling materials

Later during this century, around 2060, a paradigm shift in global energy consumption is expected: we will spend more energy for cooling than for heating....

Im Focus: The working of a molecular string phone

Researchers from the Department of Atomically Resolved Dynamics of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg, the University of Potsdam (both in Germany) and the University of Toronto (Canada) have pieced together a detailed time-lapse movie revealing all the major steps during the catalytic cycle of an enzyme. Surprisingly, the communication between the protein units is accomplished via a water-network akin to a string telephone. This communication is aligned with a ‘breathing’ motion, that is the expansion and contraction of the protein.

This time-lapse sequence of structures reveals dynamic motions as a fundamental element in the molecular foundations of biology.

Im Focus: Milestones on the Way to the Nuclear Clock

Two research teams have succeeded simultaneously in measuring the long-sought Thorium nuclear transition, which enables extremely precise nuclear clocks. TU Wien (Vienna) is part of both teams.

If you want to build the most accurate clock in the world, you need something that "ticks" very fast and extremely precise. In an atomic clock, electrons are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Society 5.0: putting humans at the heart of digitalisation

10.09.2019 | Event News

Interspeech 2019 conference: Alexa and Siri in Graz

04.09.2019 | Event News

AI for Laser Technology Conference: optimizing the use of lasers with artificial intelligence

29.08.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stroke patients relearning how to walk with peculiar shoe

18.09.2019 | Innovative Products

Statistical inference to mimic the operating manner of highly-experienced crystallographer

18.09.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Scientists' design discovery doubles conductivity of indium oxide transparent coatings

18.09.2019 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>