Researchers develop new catalyst that could improve fuel cellsMarch 3, 2015
Metal-free catalyst developed by research team from Case Western Reserve University
Researchers from the Case Western Reserve University have developed a metal-free catalyst that can be used in fuel cells. The research team has also developed a conventional catalyst that could speed the oxygen reduction reaction in acidic fuel cells. The metal-free catalyst could be an inexpensive solution to some of the problems that fuel cells are facing currently. Conventional fuel cells use a catalyst comprised of platinum, which makes these energy systems quite expensive.
New catalyst is resistant to corrosion within a fuel cell system
The metal-free catalyst developed by researchers from the Case Western Reserve University was made using carbon. The research team notes that the carbon-based catalyst corrodes at a slower rate than its metal-based counterparts. The chemical reactions that occur within a fuel cell lead to rapid corrosion of metal-based catalysts, which reduces their effectiveness over time. The carbon-based catalyst could allow fuel cells to operate for longer periods of time without their capability of producing electrical power being compromised.
Catalyst has been developed using graphene
The new catalyst makes use of graphene, which is a relatively new material that shows great promise in a variety of applications. Graphene is an atomic-scale honeycomb lattice, which is comprised of carbon atoms. The structure of graphene allows for a great deal of electric conductivity and the material is quite durable and resistant to the chemical reactions that take place within fuel cells. The research team believes that using graphene will increase the energy production of proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells, which have become more popular because of their small size and energy production capabilities.
Improving fuel cells is becoming a priority for research organizations
Fuel cell technology is beginning to advance at a rapid pace. This is partly due to the fact that these energy systems are becoming more popular, especially in the transportation sector. As fuel cells grow in popularity, finding ways to overcome their inefficiencies is becoming more important. Catalysts have become a subject of interest among researchers who want to improve fuel cell systems.