HyperSolar discovers new replacement for platinum catalystsOctober 30, 2012
HyperSolar seeks patent for new technology
HyperSolar, a developer of hybrid alternative energy technology, has announced that it has filed a patent application alongside the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). The patent aims to protect a technology that the duo have developed that could significantly reduce the cost of hydrogen fuel cells and fuel production. HyperSolar, with the help of researchers from UCSB, have developed a protective polymer that can be used in the company’s solar-powered fuel cells that improves the longevity, efficiency, and performance of these energy systems.
Polymer originally meant to protect against photocorrosion may reduce cost of fuel cells
The polymer is meant to provide stability and protection to the electrodes used in the energy system, making them resilient against photocorrosion. Initially, this was the sole purpose of the polymer. Further research into the material, however, revealed that it could have wider applications within fuel cells, such as serving as a suitable replacement for the platinum catalysts that are most often used in common fuel cell systems. These catalysts are notoriously expensive, so replacing them could lead to more affordable fuel cells.
Affordable fuel cells could be on the way from HyperSolar
The discovery that the polymer developed by HyperSolar can be used as a replacement for a fuel cell’s platinum catalysts was something of an accident. With this breakthrough, HyperSolar can begin developing less expensive variants of hydrogen fuel cells. Many of the fuel cell energy systems developed by the company run off solar energy, making them entirely energy independent. This aspect has already made HyperSolar energy systems somewhat popular. Lowering the price of these systems is expected to add momentum to the company’s growing popularity.
Replacing platinum among greatest challenges facing fuel cell industry
Finding an adequate replacement for platinum in fuel cells is one of the greatest challenges being faced by the alternative energy community today. Fuel cells have won acclaim for their ability to produce large amounts of energy efficiently, but are often criticized because of their price. The high price of fuel cells is largely due to the platinum that is used to create the catalysts they need to produce energy. By finding a replacement for this material, HyperSolar may unlock a brighter future for the fuel cell industry.
The department of energy estimated that the amount of platinum must be reduced by a factor of 4 in order for the hydrogen fuel cell price will be close to the price of using fossil fuel combustion. Platinum is white gold and chemist consider platinum to be noble ( unreactive or dead), yet hydrogen oxidation and oxygen reduction ( basic reactions of the + and – electrode of hydrogen fuel cell) will not run without platinum.