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
- Scientists develop cheaper catalysts to cut fuel cell coston November 19, 2019 at 12:16 am
The quest for developing cheaper but better fuel cells has just got a boost. A research team, that includes a scientist from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras, may have found a ...
- Fuel Cells Market Revenue to Hit $1,059 Million by 2024 - Exclusive Report by MarketsandMarkets™on November 15, 2019 at 9:07 am
The global fuel cells market size is projected to reach USD 1,059 million by 2024 from an estimated value of USD 342 million in 2019, growing at a CAGR of 25.4% during the forecast period. This press ...
- Fuel Cells Market Worth $1,059 Million by 2024 - Exclusive Report by MarketsandMarkets™on November 14, 2019 at 4:20 pm
CHICAGO, Nov. 14, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- According to the new market research report "Fuel Cells Market by Type (Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell, Phosphoric Acid Fuel Cell, Alkaline Fuel Cell, ...
- Engineering bunched Pt-Ni alloy nanocages for efficient oxygen reduction in practical fuel cellson November 14, 2019 at 12:00 pm
2 State Key Laboratory of Marine Resource Utilization in South China Sea, Hainan University, Haikou 570228, PR China. 3 Innovation Research Center for Fuel Cells, The University of ...
- Nanocage-chain fuel cell catalystson November 14, 2019 at 11:53 am
The expense and scarcity of platinum has driven efforts to improve oxygen-reduction catalysts in proton-exchange membrane fuel cells. Tian et al. synthesized chains of platinum-nickel alloy ...
- Fuel Cell Vehicles Market Analysis 2019, by Segmentation, Top Players, Industry Demand and Production, Type, Competitors Strategy, Outlook 2025on November 13, 2019 at 12:18 am
Nov 13, 2019 (The Expresswire) -- Fuel Cell Vehicles Market 2019 Report covers an Analytical View With complete information of Product types, Sales and Revenue by region, including Manufacturing cost ...
- Toyota Fuel-Cell Power Plant In Limbo After California Utility Withholds Supporton November 11, 2019 at 5:26 pm
Toyota's (NYSE: TM) hydrogen fuel-cell commercial vehicle prototypes keep rolling off the factory floor, but the automaker hasn't had the same luck pushing the boundaries on hydrogen fuel ...
- Hydrogen Fuel Cell Market Expansion Could Push Plug Power Stock Higheron November 11, 2019 at 2:01 am
As we come into the last weeks of 2019, it’s safe to say that it has been a landmark year for hydrogen fuel cell (HFC) maker Plug Power (NASDAQ:PLUG). Year-to-date, PLUG stock has rallied an ...
- Innovations in Renewable Energy, Fuel Cells, Solar Cells, and Hydrogen Production, 2019 Market Study - ResearchAndMarkets.comon November 7, 2019 at 9:45 am
The "Innovations in Renewable Energy, Fuel Cells, Solar Cells, and Hydrogen Production" report has been added to ResearchAndMarkets.com's offering. This edition of the Energy and Power Systems ...
- Innovations in Adaptive Headlights, Fuel Cells for Buses, Automotive Memory, and Autonomous Vehicles, 2019 Study - ResearchAndMarkets.comon November 7, 2019 at 12:44 am
The "Innovations in Adaptive Headlights, Fuel Cells for Buses, Automotive Memory, and Autonomous Vehicles" report has been added to ResearchAndMarkets.com's offering. This Mobility TechVision ...
via Bing News