Graphene may be an effective catalyst for hydrogen fuel cellsDecember 2, 2014
Research team makes a breakthrough with graphene material
Researchers from the University of Manchester have discovered an interesting quality in graphene material. This material is relatively unknown to the public but has become quite prominent in various fields, including renewable energy. Graphene has become particularly attractive in the fuel cell space, where the material can be used to develop durable hydrogen storage solutions and even in catalysts that allow fuel cells to produce electrical power. The recent breakthrough concerning graphene may have serious implications for fuel cell development.
Graphene allows for the passage of protons when used as a catalyst
The research team from the University of Manchester has found that graphene is impermeable to all gases and liquids, but the material can easily facilitate the passage of protons. This means that graphene could act as an effective alternative to traditional fuel cell catalysts that are comprised of platinum. The research team found that graphene was able to aid in the production of highly pure hydrogen as well, which can be used by a fuel cell to generate electrical power.
Alternatives to platinum are becoming more important in the fuel cell sector
Finding an alternative to platinum catalysts has become a subject of focus for organizations interested in renewable energy. Because hydrogen fuel cells use platinum, they are quite expensive, which makes them relatively unattractive as an energy solution. The problem, however, is that platinum is typically the best material that can be used for a fuel cell because of its electrochemical properties. Finding a replacement for platinum has been quite difficult, but graphene is showing a great deal of promise.
Research team will continue studying graphene to determine its viability in the clean energy space
The team from the University of Manchester will continue studying graphene to determine its viability. The team has already conducted several small-scale studies using graphene as a catalyst for hydrogen fuel cells and have been met with promising results. Researching graphene is likely to be a time consuming process and it may be years before a graphene fuel cell catalyst becomes commercially available.