Researchers develop new tool to observe hydrogen fuel cells

August 17, 2015 0 By Stephen Vagus

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Research team designs nanochip that is capable of examining nanocatalysts within fuel cells

A team of researchers from UCLA’s California NanoSystems Institute have developed a new tool that will be able to analyze how nanocatalysts foster chemical reactions to produce electrical power. These nanocatalysts are typically used in fuel cells, which consume hydrogen fuel in order to generate energy. Being able to analyze the chemical reactions occurring within a fuel cell could give researchers more insight into how to improve fuel cell technology, thereby making the energy systems less expensive and more efficient.

Modern observation methods are considered inefficient when measuring fuel cell activity

Current observation methods require large laboratory machines in order to adequately measure the chemical reactions that are occurring within a fuel cell. UCLA researchers have developed a nanoelectronic chip which will be able to conduct the same measurements in a more efficient fashion. During experiments, the nanochip proved to be more accurate in collecting and measuring data from fuel cells. This data can be analyzed to better understand the machinations of fuel cells and how they can be improved.


Clean Energy Quotes To Remember - “For example, a breakthrough in better batteries could supplant hydrogen. Better solar cells could replace or win out in this race to the fuel of the future. Those, I see, as the three big competitors: hydrogen, solar cells and then better batteries.”

- Bob Inglis, Politician


A better understanding of hydrogen fuel cells may help improve technology

hydrogen fuel researchHydrogen fuel cells have become a very important tool within the renewable energy space. These energy systems can produce large quantities of electrical power without producing any harmful emissions. This has made them quite popular within the auto industry, but fuel cells still face many challenges that are barring their widespread success. One of the main challenges that fuel cells face is their high cost, largely due to their use of platinum. They are also somewhat inefficient when compared to other forms of renewable energy systems.

Nanochip may provide researchers with a way to produce better nanocatalysts

The new nanochip will also give researchers a chance to gain a better understanding of nanocatalysts and how they facilitate electrochemical reactions in fuel cell materials. These catalysts are considered somewhat more efficiency and less expensive than other types of catalysts, and forming a better understanding of how they operate may help significantly improve hydrogen fuel cell technology.