Fuel cells may benefit from removal of platinum

Fuel cells may benefit from removal of platinum

July 14, 2012 0 By Angie Bergenson

hydrogen fuel cell industry

Platinum may be part of the problems facing fuel cells

Though hydrogen fuel cells have been growing in popularity recently, they are still subjected to criticisms concerning their efficiency. Fuel cells are often accused of consuming more energy they produce and receive a great deal of ire for the expensive manufacture. Indeed, cost has been a significant issue in the fuel cell industry and has long served as a serious detractor for companies that had shown interest in adopting the energy systems. The high cost of fuel cells, and perhaps their efficiency problems, is due to their use of platinum.

Platinum catalysts are widely used throughout the industry

Fuel cells generate electricity through chemical processes. This process is made possible by a catalyst, which is often comprised of a significant amount of platinum. Other catalyst materials have been used in the past, but platinum has, thus far, is widely accepted in the fuel cell industry as being the best option. Platinum may not be the best option for fuel cells, according to researchers from the Case Western Reserve University, and could actually be holding back the fuel cell industry as a whole.

Researchers suggest that fuel cells could benefit from the removal of platinum

Chemistry Professor Alfred Anderson, along with his colleagues, argues that using platinum in a fuel cell is like introducing a resistor to an energy system. Though Anderson acknowledges that he does not know what an effective replacement for platinum would be, he suggests that the fuel cell industry should spend more time in looking for alternatives that trying to improve platinum catalysts. Anderson and his colleagues have conducted an analysis of platinum that has been published in the journals Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics and Electrocatalysis.

Alternative could help fuel cells reach commercialization

According to researchers, platinum is a lackluster materials, in terms of chemical reactions, even in the best of circumstances. Finding a suitable alternative could make fuel cells more attractive for commercialization and boost their efficiency significantly.


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