Less expensive fuel cell may be possible

Oct 03, 2006

Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory have developed a new class of hydrogen fuel-cell catalysts that exhibit promising activity and stability. The catalysts are made of low-cost nonprecious metals entrapped in something called a heteroatomic-polymer structure, instead of platinum materials typically used in fuel cells.

In research published recently in the scientific journal Nature, Los Alamos scientists Rajesh Bashyam and Piotr Zelenay describe tests conducted on a cobalt-polypyrrole-carbon (Co-PPY-XC72) composite. The composite, consisting of cobalt, polymer and carbon, was developed in research aimed at developing low-cost non-platinum catalysts for the polymer electrolyte fuel-cell (PEFC) cathode.

While the electrical energy producing activity of the catalyst is lower than that of platinum-based catalysts used in polymer electrolyte fuel cells, the new material shows exceptional performance stability for over one hundred hours of continuous testing, a result never before obtained with non-precious metal catalysts in PEFCs.

"Besides being made of inexpensive and environmentally benign materials," said Zelenay, "the chief advantage of these composite catalysts for oxygen reduction is that they can operate in the acidic environment of the polymer electrolyte fuel cell."

Bashyam and Zelenay are investigating the nature of catalysts in a variety of composites. They are also part of a larger Laboratory effort aimed at developing new catalyst and electrode structures that could increase the current output from fuel cells.

According to Ken Stroh, program manager for the Los Alamos fuel-cell effort, "The two biggest obstacles in making a commercially viable fuel cell have traditionally been high cost and inadequate durability. Our focus at Los Alamos is to attack those obstacles as a system in which you simultaneously strive for lower costs and higher durability."

Source: Los Alamos National Laboratory

Explore further: Researchers find tin selenide shows promise for efficiently converting waste heat into electrical energy

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

LLNL, Intel, Cray produce big data machine

Nov 05, 2013

(Phys.org) —Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in partnership with Intel and Cray, today announced a unique high-performance computing (HPC) cluster that will serve research scientists at all three ...

Scientists improve biomass-to-fuel process

May 01, 2013

(Phys.org) —Los Alamos scientists published an article in the scientific journal Nature Chemistry that could offer a big step on the path to renewable energy.

Recommended for you

Novel technique opens door to better solar cells

Apr 14, 2014

A team of scientists, led by Assistant Professor Andrivo Rusydi from the Department of Physics at the National University of Singapore's (NUS) Faculty of Science, has successfully developed a technique to ...

Probing metal solidification nondestructively

Apr 14, 2014

(Phys.org) —Los Alamos researchers and collaborators have used nondestructive imaging techniques to study the solidification of metal alloy samples. The team used complementary methods of proton radiography ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Robotics goes micro-scale

(Phys.org) —The development of light-driven 'micro-robots' that can autonomously investigate and manipulate the nano-scale environment in a microscope comes a step closer, thanks to new research from the ...

Tiny power plants hold promise for nuclear energy

Small underground nuclear power plants that could be cheaper to build than their behemoth counterparts may herald the future for an energy industry under intense scrutiny since the Fukushima disaster, the ...

Hand out money with my mobile? I think I'm ready

A service is soon to launch in the UK that will enable us to transfer money to other people using just their name and mobile number. Paym is being hailed as a revolution in banking because you can pay peopl ...