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
- VW ID Buggy driven, fuel-cell e-bike, charging vs. gas stations: Today’s Car Newson August 16, 2019 at 8:50 am
Charging stations outnumber gas stations in Britain. A hydrogen fuel-cell e-bike goes farther. And we get U.S. seat time with Volkswagen’s MEB platform. All this and more on Green Car Reports.
- Hydrogen fuel-cell e-bike claiming longer range, quick refuelingon August 16, 2019 at 6:30 am
Before the Toyota Mirai, the Honda Clarity Fuel Cell, and the Hyundai Nexo faced off with the current crop of electric cars, there was a hydrogen fuel-cell e-bike—the Alpha, which also demonstrated ...
- Plug Power looks to market fuel-cell powered airport tuggers after pilot with FedExon August 15, 2019 at 12:58 pm
Plug Power has been trying to diversify its products for years, and on Thursday the fuel cell manufacturer showed off one of its latest projects — powering FedEx airport ground equipment trucks. FedEx ...
- Ammonia for fuel cellson August 15, 2019 at 7:35 am
Fuel cells are pollution-free power sources that convert chemical energy to electricity with high efficiency and zero emissions. Fuel cell cars, trucks, and buses would allow people to travel long ...
- ZeroAvia is putting hydrogen fuel cells in airplaneson August 14, 2019 at 3:59 pm
ZeroAvia is using a hydrogen fuel-cell to provide zero-emissions power for flight. Alternative fuels for cars are pretty commonplace. We see electric vehicles and hybrids pretty much anytime we set ...
- Startups Bet Hydrogen Fuel Cells Are Ready For Takeoff In Aviationon August 14, 2019 at 3:52 pm
ZeroAvia's test bed is a Piper Matrix. The company is aiming for a test flight of 300 miles later this year. Courtesy of ZeroAvia For decades, researchers have pondered how to harness the potential of ...
- World's first fuel-cell e-bike gets a big boost in rangeon August 13, 2019 at 12:42 pm
The Alter Bike is the result of a partnership between three French companies – Pragma, which manufactures fuel cells; Cycleurope, which designs bicycles; and Ventec, which designs battery ...
- Technological Advancements and Emerging Applications of Fuel Cells, 2019 Market Reporton August 12, 2019 at 12:11 pm
DUBLIN, Aug. 12, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- The "Technological Advancements and Emerging Applications of Fuel Cells" report has been added to ResearchAndMarkets.com's offering. Technological ...
- Army sets sights on new fuel cell technologyon August 12, 2019 at 11:09 am
When dismounted U.S. Army infantry are attacking fortified enemy positions, taking hostile fire and moving quickly to find the best points for continued assault -- “battery life” can determine mission ...
- Hyundai NEXO Fuel Cell SUV Earns Top Safety Pick+ Award from Insurance Institute for Highway Safetyon August 9, 2019 at 8:07 am
- Hyundai Motor America Now Offers 12 TOP SAFETY PICK/ TOP SAFETY PICK+ Models in the U.S. Market, One of the Most Prolific TSP-Awarded Brands in the Industry FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif., Aug. 9, 2019 ...
via Bing News