by Staff Writers
Copenhagen, Denmark (SPX) Jul 23, 2013
Climate friendly fuel cells for hydrogen cars have come one step closer. Researchers at the Department of Chemistry, University of Copenhagen, have shown how to build fuel cells that produce as much electricity as current models, but require markedly less of the rare and valuable precious metal platinum. Their discovery was published in the highly reputable periodical Nature Materials.
Cheaper hydrogen cars with new fuel cell design
Unfortunately the fuel cells have a technical limitation. They only work if they contain the metal platinum which is less common and more costly than gold. This has been a considerable obstacle to the development of the energy efficient power generators.
"A marked reduction in platinum need is certainly realistic. And that will be a huge financial advantage!
Reduced need for metal increases economic yield
In the lab we have shown, that we can generate the same amount of electricity with just a fifth of the platinum. We don't expect to do quite that well in an everyday situation, but a marked reduction in platinum need is certainly realistic. And that will be a huge financial advantage.
One of the most costly elements
In 2012 world production was 179 metric tons. By comparison gold production was 2.700 tons. And while the cost of platinum in 2010 was 1.600 dollars per Troy Ounce gold sold at just 1.300 dollars for a Troy Ounce.
Sheets, particles or nanoparticles
Five times more electricity for every gram of metal
Their initial instinct was that they got a bigger power yield, because they had used smaller granules of platinum. But careful measurement revealed something much more surprising.
Unexpected effect discovered by chance
By chance the particles were very tightly packed on a few of the sample catalysts and as it turned out, the packing of the particles was much more significant than the size. An effect, that the researchers have dubbed the "Particle Proximity Effect".
Next step will be to develop a chemical method to produce tightly packed catalysts on an industrial scale. Arenz has a few ideas for that as well, so he and his group have started applying for grants.
University of Copenhagen
Car Technology at SpaceMart.com
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