Bringing clean energy a step closer

Cheaper, more durable catalyst for fuel cell used in cars, at data centers

Bringing clean energy a step closer

CWRU researchers bring clean energy a step closer

For nearly half a century, scientists have been trying to replace precious metal catalysts in fuel cells. Now, for the first time, researchers at Case Western Reserve University have shown that an inexpensive metal-free catalyst performs as well as costly metal catalysts at speeding the oxygen reduction reaction in an acidic fuel cell.

The carbon-based catalyst also corrodes less than metal-based materials and has proved more durable.

The findings are major steps toward making low-cost catalysts commercially available, which could, in turn, reduce the cost to generate clean energy from PEM fuel cells–the most common cell being tested and used in cars and stationary power plants.

“This definitely should move the field forward,” said Liming Dai, the Kent Hale Smith Professor of macromolecular science and engineering at Case Western Reserve and senior author of the research. “It’s a major breakthrough for commercialization.”

Dai worked with lead investigator Jianglan Shui, who was a CWRU postdoctoral researcher and is now a materials science and engineering professor at Beihang University, Beijing; PhD student Min Wang, who did some of the testing; and postdoctoral researcher Fen Du, who made the materials. The effort builds on the Dai lab’s earlier work developing carbon-based catalysts that significantly outperformed platinum in an alkaline fuel cell.

The group pursued a non-metal catalyst to perform in acid because the standard bearer among fuel cells, the PEM cell, uses an acidic electrolyte. PEM stands for both proton exchange membrane and polymer electrolyte membrane, which are interchangeable names for this type of cell.

CWRU researchers bring clean energy a step closer
Structure enables a carbon-based catalyst to perform comparably with metal catalysts in an acidic fuel cell. A: Carbon black agglomerates maintain a clear distance between graphene sheets imbedded with carbon nanotubes, allowing oxygen and electrolyte to flow through and speeding the oxygen-reduction reaction. B: Without the agglomerates, the sheets stack closely, stalling the reaction. Credit | Liming Dai

See also: Multiple Scientists Confirm The Reality of Free Energy

The key to the new catalyst is its rationally-designed porous structure, Dai said. The researchers mixed sheets of nitrogen-doped graphene, a single-atom thick, with carbon nanotubes and carbon black particles in a solution, then freeze-dried them into composite sheets and hardened them.

Graphene provides enormous surface area to speed chemical reactions, nanotubes enhance conductivity, and carbon black separates the graphene sheets for free flow of the electrolyte and oxygen, which greatly increased performance and efficiency. The researchers found that those advantages were lost when they allowed composite sheets to arrange themselves in tight stacks with little room between layers.

A fuel cell converts chemical energy into electrical energy by removing electrons from a fuel, such as hydrogen, at the cell’s anode, or positive electrode. This creates a current.

Hydrogen ions produced are carried by the electrolyte through a membrane to the cathode, or negative electrode, where the oxygen reduction reaction takes place. Oxygen molecules are split and reduced by the addition of electrons and combine with the hydrogen ions to form water and heat–the only byproducts.

See also: The Quest to Free Up Free Energy

Testing showed the porous catalyst performs better and is more durable than the state-of-the-art nonprecious iron-based catalyst. Dai’s lab continues to fine-tune the materials and structure as well as investigate the use of non-metal catalysts in more areas of clean energy.


Story Source:
The above story is based on materials provided by Case Western Reserve University.
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Viaphys

Find us here

Get news from the CSGLOBE in your inbox each weekday morning

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors/source and do not necessarily reflect the position of CSGLOBE or its staff.

Paid content

Scientists Discover A Second Brain In Human Body, And It’s Located In The Butt

It turns out those gut feelings or pits in your stomach may actually come from your second...

Scientists grow human tooth

Scientists in China say they have successfully grown a human tooth using stem cells taken from urine.

People Can See Sound. Here Is How!

People can actually see SOUND. Researchers have found out that, in some cases, when the part of the brain devoted to sight is small,...

What's New Today

Georgia House Votes To Allow Citizens To Abolish Police Departments In The State

The Georgia House backed an effort on Friday to dissolve the Glynn County Police Department and any...

Leaked CDC document contradicts Pence claim that U.S. coronavirus cases ‘have stabilized’

Even as Vice President Mike Pence wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published Tuesday that coronavirus...

Five bombshells about Trump from Bolton ‘s book

Excerpts from former national security adviser John Bolton ’s book about his time in the Trump administration...

Don’t Listen to Fox. Here’s What’s Really Going On in Seattle’s Protest Zone.

It seems I live in a city undergoing a “totalitarian takeover” that will lead to “fascist outcomes”...

MOST READ

What Is Agenda 21? Depopulation of 95% of the World By 2030

Most people are unaware that one of the greatest threats to their freedom may be a United Nations program which plans to depopulate 95%...

Complete List of BANKS Owned/Controlled by the Rothschild Family

What’s the significance of having a central bank within a country and why should you concern yourself, your family and colleagues? Central banks are illegally...

Racial wounds rip open under a president with a history of exploiting them

President Donald Trump has spent much of his adult life building his brand around racial divisions.

Scientists Discover A Second Brain In Human Body, And It’s Located In The Butt

It turns out those gut feelings or pits in your stomach may actually come from your second...

Doctors Shocked to Discover Sperm Counts in Western Men Plummeted Nearly 60%

According to a new analysis published Tuesday, sperm counts in Western men have plummeted nearly 60 percent over the last four decades. Though researchers say the specific...

Top Neuroscientist Explains How Big Pharma’s Adderall Is Essentially Crystal Meth

Anyone who’s ever been given one of their friend’s Adderall knows the powerful effects brought on by this tiny unintimidating pink pill. Increased energy, enhanced...

Space lizard? Alien creature ‘on high alert’ on Mars catches UFO fans’ eyes

Life on Mars: UFO fans spot lizard on Red Planet Mars seems to be quite an inhabited planet, according to UFO freaks. Perhaps inspired by stories...

ADHD Not a Real Disease, Says Leading Neuroscientist

Neuroscientist says children are being 'labelled' as having ADHD when there could be other reasons for their disorder One of the world’s leading pediatric neuroscientists,...

6 Technologies That Most People Haven’t Even Heard About Yet

We live at a time when technology is advancing at an exponential pace. Are you ready for the future? Today, scientists are rapidly developing bizarre new...

A Clever And Thought Provoking Driving Ad

Eyes on the road: Anti-Texting & Driving Ad The guys at Volkswagen Hong Kong recently revealed their latest anti-texting while driving message to a cinema...

Monsanto Pays 93 Million to Victims In Settlement

Monsanto tentatively agreed to a $93 million settlement with some residents of Nitro, West Virginia. Nitro is a small town that got its name...