Researchers develop new catalyst material for fuel cellsAugust 29, 2012
IBN scientists create catalyst material that may lead to superior fuel cells
Researchers from the Singapore’s Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) have developed a new catalyst material that could be used in the production of more efficient and cost effective fuel cells. The material is believed to be a key component in the manufacture of superior fuel cells. These fuel cells may be able to produce electricity more efficiently and at higher quantities than conventional models. They may also be more affordable than traditional counterparts because of their reduced reliance on platinum.
Catalyst material comprised of gold, copper, and platinum nanoparticles
The new material developed by IBN researchers is comprised of gold, copper, and platinum nanoparticles. Most conventional fuel cells use platinum nanoparticles for their catalyst. In these fuel cells, a significant amount of platinum is required to function properly. The amount of platinum used makes the production of fuel cells costly, thus increasing their retail price. Platinum is used because it is the only metal that has proven resilient against the acidic conditions created within a fuel cell.
Material capable of boosting the performance of fuel cells
Researchers believe that their new material could reduce the amount of platinum used in conventional catalysts and improve the performance of fuel cells. Using the material, researchers have created a gold and copper alloy encased in platinum nanoparticles. According to initial tests, the material has proven to be much more stable than traditional catalysts and boasts of five times more activity. Researchers note that this is the first time a catalyst material has been shown to increase both the stability and performance of a fuel cell.
Material may bring significant benefits to the fuel cell industry
IBN researchers will continue to experiment with the catalyst material they have developed. Improvements may be made to the material in the future to make it more effective. If the material can be commercialized and is adopted by fuel cell manufacturers, it may make fuel cell energy systems a more attractive option for those interested in alternative energy.
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