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...

The 10 Biggest Dangers Posed By Future Technology

It’s not easy predicting the future of technology. In the fifties it seemed a pretty much foregone conclusion that by 2015 we would all...

If You’re Alive in 30 Years, it’s Likely You Will be Alive in 1000 Years

Life extension is no joke. It's being pursued, avidly, by the chief engineer at Google, Ray Kurzweil, and is increasingly popular, with some scientists...

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%...

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”...

Putin has Banned Rothschild and His New World Order Banking Cartel Family from Entering Russian Territory

As of recently, Russian president Vladimir Putin took yet another decision for his country. "Under any circumstances", the Rothschild family is banned from entering Russian territory. Along...

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...

Google’s Plan to Eliminate Human Driving in 5 Years

GOOGLE’S SELF DRIVING car prototype hits the road this summer, the tech giant announced last week. Real roads, in the real world. The car has...

Mysterious Plumes on Mars Have Scientists Stumped

Mars mystery: Enormous plumes detected erupting on Red Planet A mystery is brewing on Mars: Amateur astronomers spotted enormous plumes erupting off the Red Planet's...

‘Billions’ of stars in Milky Way have planets that could contain liquid water and life

Most stars in the galaxy have planets in the habitable zone, according to new research The Milky Way galaxy may be home to billions of...

What Advice Would You Give Your Younger Self?

Consider, for a second, your life. Consider all of the life lessons you've learned and the experiences you've undergone during your brief existence here. Consider...

Breaking: Activists Dangle From Bridge To Block Shell Oil Drilling, and it’s Working

Dangling from Bridge, Greenpeace Climbers Blockade Arctic Drilling Ship Climate justice campaigners rappelling from a towering bridge and paddling in kayaks have so far successfully...

This is What Americans Will Look like by 2050

The Changing Face of America We've become a country where race is no longer so black or white. It's no secret that interracial relationships are trending...

Putin Calls Out “The Powers That Be” & The “Imaginary and Mythical” Threats they Use To Control Us

George Orwell once said that “in a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” Since he offered those words decades ago,...