New catalyst shows promise in making hydrogen fuel more affordable

April 1, 2015 0 By Erin Kilgore
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Researchers have developed a new, inexpensive catalyst for hydrogen fuel cells

Researchers from the University of Delaware have found a new way to produce inexpensive hydrogen fuel. The discovery could lead to less expensive fuel cells, as well, which may make these energy systems more attractive to consumers and businesses alike. Fuel cells are notoriously expensive because they are made using platinum. The high cost of fuel cells has made them somewhat unattractive when compared to other forms of renewable energy, such as solar power.

Research team uses copper and titanium to create an affordable and efficient fuel cell catalyst

The research team from the University of Delaware, lead by chemical engineer Feng Jiao, have developed a new catalyst that uses copper alloy and titanium. The team found that combining copper and titanium produces better catalytic results than what can be found in traditional platinum catalysts. One of the major benefits of the new catalyst is that it is quite inexpensive. Using the new catalyst could make fuel cells more affordable and increase their performance capabilities. It could also lead to a new, inexpensive way to produce hydrogen fuel.

Commercialization of new catalyst could take several years to achieve

Hydrogen Fuel Research - University of DelawareThough the new catalyst shows a great deal of promise, it may be several years before the catalyst can see any commercial use. The research team has been experimenting with a small-scale catalyst, which serves as the first step for further research into making hydrogen fuel and fuel cells a more financially viable alternative to conventional forms of energy. Scaling up the catalyst will take time, and researchers will have to examine its capabilities before the catalyst can be commercialized in any significant way.

Hydrogen fuel cells could become more popular across several sectors

Hydrogen fuel cells are seeing the majority of their use in the transportation sector. These energy systems have become quite attractive to automakers because they produce electrical power without also producing emissions. Fuel cells have also been used in various industrial projects. Making these energy systems more affordable will likely increase their usage across various business sectors that have an interest in clean energy.