Verge Fund invests in new fuel cell catalyst technology

Verge Fund invests in new fuel cell catalyst technology

October 16, 2012 0 By John Max
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Hydrogen Fuel Cell Industry

Verge Fund backs Pajarito Powder

New Mexico’s Verge Fund, a venture capital investment organization, has announced the investment of $1 million in new hydrogen fuel cell technology. The investment has gone to Pajarito Powder LLC, a company specializing in the development of catalysts for hydrogen fuel cells. Catalysts are a necessary component for fuel cells to operate and generate electricity, but they are also the most expensive component contained within the energy systems. The Verge Fund believes that the new technology coming from Pajarito Powder could help significantly reduce the cost of hydrogen fuel cells in the future.

New technology could make platinum catalysts a thing of the past

Catalysts are responsible for triggering the electrochemical processes occurring within a fuel cell that generate electrical power. This is not the reason catalysts are so expensive, however. Typical fuel cell catalysts are made using a significant amount of platinum, one of the most expensive materials on the planet. Platinum has, in the past, been the only material capable of withstanding the corrosive environments created within a fuel cell energy system. By removing platinum from the equation, the Verge Fund believes that hydrogen fuel cells can be made much more affordable.

New catalyst to be based on technological breakthroughs from other institutes

Pajarito Powder is drawing upon breakthroughs in catalyst technology coming from the University of New Mexico, Michigan State University, and Los Alamos National Laboratories. These organizations have successfully developed fuel cell catalysts that are comprised of polymers and metals like iron and cobalt. Research has shown that these catalysts are just as capable as their platinum-based counterparts in triggering electrochemical processes within a fuel cell. In some cases, these catalysts have proven profoundly more effective in this task than those made of platinum.

New catalyst could unlock progress in fuel cell industry

Pajarito Powder will be working to incorporate the technology breakthroughs of other organizations into the development of a new fuel cell catalyst. If successful, the new catalyst could be ready for the commercial market within the next two years. This could be a major boost for the fuel cell industry in the U.S., which has long been held down due to concerns regarding the cost of the energy systems.