Commercialisation of hydrogen fuel cells

Posted on 27 Sep 2018 and read 769 times
Commercialisation of hydrogen fuel cells A new process for creating fuel cell catalysts could help to remove one of the biggest barriers to the widespread use of hydrogen cars, according to Qiurong Shi, one of the authors of a new paper from Washington State University (, who added that low-cost catalysts with “high activity and stability” are “critical” for the commercialisation of hydrogen fuel cells.

The team claimed that hydrogen cells will be a key source of clean energy, because they are twice as efficient as internal-combustion engines and their only waste product is water, but the high price of platinum-based catalysts has previously hindered their commercialisation; and while developers would like to use non-precious metals such as iron or cobalt instead of platinum, reactions with these abundant metals tend to stop working after a short time.

Recently, researchers developed single-atom catalysts that reportedly work as well as precious metals in laboratory testing.

The researchers improved the stability and activity of the non-precious metals by working with them at the nano-scale, as single-atom catalysts.

In their new work, the Washington State team (led by professor Yuehe Lin) used iron or cobalt salts and the small molecule glucosamine as precursors, in a straightforward high-temperature process to create the single-atom catalysts.

They say that the process can significantly reduce the cost of the catalysts and could easily be scaled up for production, adding that the iron-carbon catalysts they developed were more stable than commercial platinum catalysts — plus they maintained ‘good activity’ and did not become contaminated, which is often a problem with common metals.

Chengzhou Zhu, a lead author on the paper who developed the high-temperature process, said: “This process has many advantages. It makes large-scale production feasible, and it allows us to increase the number and boost the reactivity of active sites on the catalyst.”

The research was published in Advanced Energy Materials.

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