The 2019 Toyota Mirai electric vehicle touts zero emissions, thanks to a fuel cell that runs on hydrogen instead of gasoline. But the Mirai has barely left California, partly because today’s fuel cell electrodes are made of super expensive platinum.
Cutting down on the platinum would also cut costs, allowing more electric cars to hit the market.
A new method borrows some thinking from “Goldilocks” – just the right amount – for evaluating how much metal would be required for fuel cell electrodes. The technique uses the forces on a metal’s surface to identify the ideal electrode thickness.
“There is exactly the right amount of metal that will give fuel cell electrodes the best properties,” said Jeffrey Greeley, professor of chemical engineering at Purdue. “If they are too thick or too thin, the main reaction for deploying a fuel cell doesn’t work as well, so there’s sort of a Goldilocks principle here.”
The study, to be published in the Feb. 22 issue of the journal Science, was a collaborative effort between Johns Hopkins University, Purdue University and the University of California at Irvine.
The researchers tested their theory on palladium, a metal very similar to platinum.
“We’re essentially using force to tune the properties of thin metal sheets that make up electrocatalysts, which are part of the electrodes of fuel cells,” Greeley said. “The ultimate goal is to test this method on a variety of metals.”
Fuel cells convert hydrogen, combined with some oxygen, into electricity through a so-called oxygen-reduction reaction that an electrocatalyst starts. Finding exactly the right thickness stresses the surface of the electrocatalyst and enhances how well it performs this reaction.
Researchers in the past have tried using outside forces to expand or compress an electrocatalyst’s surface, but doing so risked making the electrocatalyst less stable.
Instead, Greeley’s group predicted through computer simulations that the inherent force on the surface of a palladium electrocatalyst could be manipulated for the best possible properties.
According to the simulations, an electrocatalyst five layers thick, each layer as thin as an atom, would be enough to optimize performance.
“Don’t fight forces, use them,” said Zhenhua Zeng, a Purdue postdoctoral researcher in chemical engineering, and co-first and co-corresponding author on this paper. “This is kind of like how some structures in architecture don’t need external beams or columns because tensional and compressive forces are distributed and balanced.”
Experiments in Chao Wang’s lab at Johns Hopkins confirmed the simulation predictions, finding that the method can increase catalyst activity by 10 to 50 times, using 90 percent less of the metal than what is currently used in fuel cell electrodes.
This is because the surface force on the atomically thin electrodes tunes the strain, or distance between atoms, of the metal sheets, altering their catalytic properties.
“By tuning the material’s thickness, we were able to create more strain. This means you have more freedom to accelerate the reaction you want on the material’s surface,” Wang said.
The Latest on: Fuel cells
via Google News
The Latest on: Fuel cells
- ‘Super flexible’ nanomaterials to make fuel cell cars cheaper on February 22, 2019 at 5:55 pm
Washington, Feb 22 (PTI) Scientists have developed a new method of increasing the reactivity of ultrathin nanosheets, just a few atoms thick, an advance that can make fuel cells for hydrogen cars chea... […]
- Fuel cell company to build Eastman Business Park facility, bringing 80 jobs on February 22, 2019 at 12:15 pm
Fuel cell company to build Eastman Business Park facility, bringing 80 jobs Plug Power, Inc. is based near Albany, and is building two new facilities in Rochester and Clifton Park, Saratoga County. Ch... […]
- Developing more flexible nanomaterials can make fuel cell cars cheaper on February 22, 2019 at 9:15 am
A new method of increasing the reactivity of ultrathin nanosheets, just a few atoms thick, can someday make fuel cells for hydrogen cars cheaper, a new Johns Hopkins study finds. A report on the findi... […]
- New theory could lead to better batteries, fuel cells on February 22, 2019 at 4:24 am
In this image, different colors represent the crystallographic orientation of micrometer-sized grains making up a material called Yttria Stabilized Zirconia, used in fuel cells and other energy ... […]
- 'Goldilocks' thinking to cut cost of fuel cells in electric vehicles on February 21, 2019 at 2:31 pm
Electric vehicles running on fuel cells tout zero emissions and higher efficiency, but expensive platinum is holding them back from entering a larger market. A new method increases fuel cell electrode ... […]
- More flexible nanomaterials can make fuel cell cars cheaper on February 21, 2019 at 11:05 am
A platinum-like metal only five atomic layers thick is "just right" for optimizing the performance of a fuel cell electrode. Credit: Johns Hopkins University image/Lei Wang A new method of ... […]
- Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Market 2019 Opportunities, Share, Growth, Challenges, Competitive Landscape, Demand and Upcoming Trends To 2023 on February 20, 2019 at 2:33 am
Feb 20, 2019 (Heraldkeeper via COMTEX) -- Market Research Future published a research report on “Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Market Research Report - Forecast to 2025”, Global Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Mark... […]
- City, Fuel Cell Energy working on tax deal for Derby plant on February 19, 2019 at 3:11 pm
DERBY — A renewable energy plant slated for Roosevelt Drive could generate upward of $200,000 a year in taxes, according to city officials. That was the word recently from Mayor Richard Dziekan and th... […]
- Hyundai’s Nexo makes a case for fuel-cell SUVs on February 19, 2019 at 7:00 am
Too bad you can only drive it in a few places. The future of hydrogen fuel cell cars is still in doubt. It all comes down to infrastructure and there aren't enough stations for most to even consider p... […]
- Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) Market Grow with a CAGR of 13.3% illuminated by new report on February 19, 2019 at 1:19 am
Submitted by RNR Market Research. The Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) market was valued at 410 Million US$ in 2018 and is projected to reach 1110 Million US$ by 2025, at a CAGR of 13.3% during the foreca... […]
via Bing News