New catalyst may hasten commercialization of fuel cell vehicles

New catalyst may hasten commercialization of fuel cell vehicles
Scientists at Argonne National Lab have developed a new fuel cell catalyst using earthly abundant materials with performance that is comparable to platinum in laboratory tests. If commercially viable, the new catalyst could replace platinum in electric cars powered by fuel cells instead of batteries, which would greatly extend the range of electric vehicles and eliminate the need for recharging. This figure shows the microstructural difference between conventional catalysts and the new reduced-platinum catalyst. Credit: Di-Jia Liu

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory have developed a new fuel cell catalyst using earthly abundant materials with performance that is comparable to platinum in laboratory tests. If commercially viable, the new catalyst could replace platinum in electric cars powered by fuel cells instead of batteries, which would greatly extend the range of electric vehicles and eliminate the need for recharging.

Fuel cells generate electricity by using hydrogen from a fuel tank with oxygen in the air. The only waste product emitted to the environment is water.

But fuel cells are expensive, largely because they depend on the precious metal to cause the hydrogen-oxygen reaction. Argonne's replaces much of the platinum with a non-precious metal.

"Platinum represents about 50 percent of the cost of a fuel cell stack, so replacing or reducing platinum is essential to lowering the price of fuel cell vehicles," said Di-Jia Liu, who led the Argonne team. Their catalyst replaces all the platinum in the fuel cell's cathode, which usually requires four times as much platinum as the anode, and their new electrode design also optimizes the flow of protons and electrons within the fuel cell and the removal of water.

Many automakers see sales of vehicles powered by fuel cells as eventually outpacing battery-powered electric vehicles for several reasons: fuel-cell vehicles emit only water, can travel over 300 miles between fill ups, can be refilled quickly and place no burden on the electrical grid because they don't need recharging.

Since both technologies lack refilling or recharging infrastructures and are expensive, both are currently suitable mainly for early adopters and use in corporate fleets. But this may change, if advances made by Argonne researchers can be realized in commercial .

Fuel cells generate electricity to propel vehicles through electrochemical reactions between onboard hydrogen fuel and oxygen in the air. Hydrogen molecules are stripped of electrons at the fuel cell's anode, becoming protons that travel through a polymer electrolyte membrane to the cathode, where they react with electrons and oxygen to form water.

"In order for a fuel cell to work," Liu explained, "the catalyst must be densely packed with active sites that are uniformly distributed throughout the cathode and directly connected to the arriving protons and electrons, while maintaining easy access to oxygen. The catalyst should also have an architecture that can readily channel away the produced water." No conventional method for preparing carbon-based platinum or non-precious metal catalysts can meet all these criteria, Liu added.

In a paper recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, the team led by Liu reported on a new method of synthesizing a highly efficient, nanofibrous non-precious metal catalyst by electrospinning a polymer solution containing a mixture of ferrous organometallics and metal-organic frameworks. Following thermal activation, the new catalyst delivered an unprecedented level of catalytic activity in actual fuel cell tests.

"The new catalyst offers a unique carbon nano-network architecture made of microporous nanofibers interconnected through a macroporous framework," Liu explained. "Not only do the active sites inside the micropores within individual fibers catalyze chemical reactions effectively, but the macroporous voids between the fibers transport oxygen and water efficiently to and from the active sites. The continuous nano-networks also make the catalytic electrode highly conductive in charge transfer."


Explore further

Molecular fuel cell catalysts hold promise for efficient energy storage

More information: "Highly efficient nonprecious metal catalyst prepared with metal–organic framework in a continuous carbon nanofibrous network." PNAS 2015 112 (34) 10629-10634; published ahead of print August 10, 2015, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1507159112
Citation: New catalyst may hasten commercialization of fuel cell vehicles (2015, August 27) retrieved 22 September 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2015-08-catalyst-hasten-commercialization-fuel-cell.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
71 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Aug 27, 2015
I think the first use for something like this would be energy storage for intermittent renewable power sources. This would reduce the infrastructure costs of using H2 as an energy storage medium.

Aug 27, 2015
Right now the intermittent nature of renewables require that natural gas fired power plants run on standby to fill in the gaps and keep the grid stable. If we could eliminate them we could use that natural gas as a transportation fuel and accomplish the same end goal at a much lower infrastructure cost.

Aug 27, 2015
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Aug 30, 2015
Nice try, but the cost of fuel cells should fall much more than just by one half for becoming commercially viable.


Recent US DoE estimates put the cost of the latest technology fuel cells at $61 per kW so a car sized fuel cell would be in the $5000-10000 range. Halving the price would make it commercially reasonable.

A refurbished car engine for example costs you somewhere up to $2000

Aug 30, 2015
Catalysts are not required for high-temperature fuel cells running on natural gas. They are self-reforming, so this will not help SOFC and some other types.

Aug 30, 2015
I think the first use for something like this would be energy storage for intermittent renewable power sources. This would reduce the infrastructure costs of using H2 as an energy storage medium.


One of the problems of fuel cells is that they don't like to be thermally cycled, because the catalyst material and the membrane undergoes thermal stresses, expansion and contraction, as the output power of the cell changes. They have a limited number of power cycles.

This is a problem in cars because every time you put your foot down, the fuel cell takes damage, and that's why fuel cell vehicles have to be hybrids with a battery in between to smooth out the load. The second reason is that the fuel cell's efficiency drops at full load, so you have to avoid pulling high peak power out of it.

Same thing with the grid load balancing - the fuel cells wear out faster in load following applications, than if they were used for baseload supply.

Aug 30, 2015
Catalysts are not required for high-temperature fuel cells running on natural gas.


The whole principle of a fuel cell is based on catalytic action. Saying that a fuel cell needs no catalyst is like saying that a piston engine needs no pistons.

They are self-reforming, so this will not help SOFC and some other types.


Are you sure you know what you're talking about, or are you just throwing words around?

Aug 30, 2015
Eikka, are you sure you know what you're talking about, or are you just throwing words around to sound real?

Look up self-reforming fuel cells then apologize.

Aug 30, 2015
Phosphoric acid cells and all Solid Oxide Fuel Cells are self-reforming.

Perhaps Molten Carbonate too, but I do not remember if the temperatures are sufficient.


Aug 30, 2015
Eikka, are you sure you know what you're talking about, or are you just throwing words around to sound real?

Look up self-reforming fuel cells then apologize.


Holy moley, I do believe ol glam-Skippy is working up to some tales about being the senior chemical engineer. What about it glam-Skippy? Are you now the seven different kinds of senior engineer but not the expert at anything?

Aug 30, 2015
Look up my name and Proton Power LLC.

Meanwhile, the issue is not me, or your fixation on me, but a change in catalysts and their use in fuel cells. Ever even seen one?

Aug 30, 2015
Catalysts are not required for high-temperature fuel cells running on natural gas.

This is actually not true. What is true is that they don't require expensive noble metal catalysts like Pt and Pd.
For commercially-available SOFCs, the anode is made out of a cermet named Ni-YSZ.
YSZ stands for Yttria-Stabilized Zirconia and is the solid oxide conductor.
The nickel is the catalyst, the high temperature (900°C) enables its use in those kind of cells but it is not active at the temperature encountered in a PEMFC (80°C), hence the use of Pt.
Two drawbacks of Ni is that it is poisoned easily by sulfur compounds found in fuels like diesel and that it also has a tendency to deposit coke which blocks the catalytic activity (however, lower temperature of 600°C mainly solves the latter issue but the catalytic activity is lower, thus a lower power density).

Aug 30, 2015
@ glam-Skippy. You are the gift that keeps on giving and giving and some more givings too you.

Look up my name and Proton Power LLC.


I will let somebody else have the big fun with that one. Hooyeei, Cher that is about as silly as your really great interweb page. Skippy you need to see if there is a kid in the neighborhood that can help you not to use the interweb for making the couyon out of your self while you are "proving" stuffs.

Aug 30, 2015
P.S. for you glam-Skippy.

I am going to give you the chance to talk about your self and stuffs.

The Proton company has two employees with the yearly revenues of 100,000 dollars. The company headquarters are in your house.

So does that mean you and Mrs-glam-Skippette have to share out the 100,000 dollars 50/50 or do you get more because you are the senior engineer of the Proton stuffs?

Aug 30, 2015
It was to show you that I am conversant with the technology of which we speak, and you are not.

You and Mrs Goober can play-talk that Cajun stuff to yourself, while the rest of us discuss the issue.

Thanks.

Aug 30, 2015
It was to show you that I am conversant with the technology of which we speak, and you are not.


But that is not what he showed Cher. ALL he said what your house is your Proton headquarters. That you have two employees. That the annual revenues is 100,000 dollars. (I am thinking that means about 10,000 annual profits which is probably your social security checks.)

Choot, he does not even say what the Proton company does, so how did you think it would show anybody what you are "conversant" with. And he certainly did not say anything about me and what I am not "conversant" with too.

Aug 30, 2015
Why are you here?

The issue is fuel cell catalysis and the development of new materials. Do you have education or experience in said topic?

Aug 30, 2015
Why are you here?


Well Cher, right now I am here to hear more about this Proton company. More than I can find out on the interweb I mean. Google-Skippy don't have much to say about him, not the one in California I mean. He has a lot of stuffs about the one in Tennessee but that one is not you is it?

Aug 30, 2015
Ira, go to facebook if you want to gossip.

If we get good and inexpensive catalysts for PEM cells, we might all be electrolyzing water with PV at home.

And we will be looking for lightweight substances with interstitial places for H2 molecules.


Aug 30, 2015
Ira, go to facebook if you want to gossip


Well if you didn't want to talk about the Proton company you shouldn't told me to look him up and you.

If we get good and inexpensive catalysts for PEM cells


Now hold that mule's halter there Skippy. You said that you don't need catalysts anymore. (Until somebody schooled you on it.) Are you now going to go with the catalysts?

we might all be electrolyzing water with PV at home


So the Proton company "might" be doing some stuffs sometime in the future in your kitchen? Is Mrs-glam-Skippette okay with that?

And we will be looking for lightweight substances with interstitial places for H2 molecules.


That's a lot of "mights" and "wills" and "ifs" for a company you pointed to letting me know you was "conversant" this stuffs. But at least now you got the catalysts/no-catalysts stuffs straightened and I expect the Google-Skippy to start reporting big things from the Proton company in your house.

Aug 30, 2015
"This is a problem in cars because every time you put your foot down, the fuel cell takes damage, and that's why fuel cell vehicles have to be hybrids with a battery in between to smooth out the load."

Thanks, I did not know that. This is the sort of things that green power fails to tell people in the press releases. Unless you happen to own a space station I really cannot see a good use for an H2 powered fuel cell.

Aug 30, 2015
Look up self-reforming fuel cells then apologize


For what?

The platinum in a PEM fuel cell catalyzes the combination of hydrogen and oxygen into H2O, and the zirconia-yttria catalyst does the same in a SOFC. Both are catalytic cells.

When the platinum catalyst encounters a fuel that contains carbon, it oxidizes the carbon into carbon monoxide which deactivates the platinum catalyst and poisons the cell. A self-reforming cell is able to use its catalyst to perform a water shift reaction to swap oxygen from the H2O waste and turn CO into CO2 while liberating the H2 which then goes on to be used as a fuel. There isn't a buildup of CO and the fuel cell continues to operate on a carbon-containing fuel.

I am conversant with the technology of which we speak, and you are not.


"Self-reforming" does not imply that these cells don't need a catalyst. You appear to have absolute no idea what you're talking about and are just parroting technical terms.

Aug 30, 2015
The next step is storage, especially mobile storage. We can store large amounts of energy in liquids, so I expect us to use those or compressed gases and reformers.

Compressed gases pay the energy penalty of compression, although their tanks are very safe.

We can exceed the energy density of liquifaction by storing the Hydrogen in the interstitial spaces of metal hydrides - crystals, essentially. And at room temperatures and low pressures. Cool, huh? But their weight is too high.

Aug 30, 2015
Transportation is the hardest nut to crack for fuel cells. They are better suited to other applications, such as primary instrument and emergency power for refineries. Or peaking power for semiconductor manufacturers who already have facilities and options for cheap Hydrogen, and great sensitivity to power quality. In these cases, the utility is backup.

Aug 30, 2015
We can exceed the energy density of liquifaction by storing the Hydrogen in the interstitial spaces of metal hydrides


Not really. The best metal hydrides store roughly 5% of their mass in hydrogen. The practical energy density of metal hydrides is worse than of liquid hydrogen by a factor of about 60 because of the additional difficulty of getting the hydrogen in and out of the lattice. You still need to apply pressure and heat/cold to make the reaction happen.

But the volumetric energy density is about 50% better for metal hydrides than for liquid hydrogen. Still, it compares to less than half the energy density of common liquid fuels.

Aug 30, 2015
"But the volumetric energy density is about 50% better for metal hydrides than for liquid hydrogen"
--------------------------

Thank you.

Why do you have the need to find anything you can ideate to throwback? The silly distraction of irrelevant material before the admission of energy density was for ego, not elucidation.

Aug 30, 2015
Look up my name and Proton Power LLC.


Proton Power LLC is a Suspended/Forfeited company which means it has failed to file the necessary tax information and payments to the state, and is therefore stripped of its rights to do business in California, sell propery or defend itself in court.

This often happens with fraudsters who drum up a lot of hype for products that don't exist or don't work and then run off with the investors' money, and leave the company to rot in a legal limbo.

And it appears you were the manager. In fact, the company appeared to have no workers at all: "all members are managers".

http://www.wysk.c.../profile

Aug 30, 2015
Carbonate fuel cells powered by waste gasses like dairy, landfill or sewage gas look to be the only fuel cells that can possibly operate at a profit. It still is not possible but at least they look to be more feasible than cells requiring pure H2.

Aug 30, 2015
The silly distraction of irrelevant material before the admission of energy density was for ego, not elucidation.


Energy density by mass is just as relevant as energy densiity by volume. You were talking about just "energy density" without making the distinction which energy density you were talking about, so the difference had to be made clear.

Also, there appears to be no patents or trademarks for Proton Power LLC whatsoever. What kind of company is this?

Aug 30, 2015
Eikka, it's not yours, is it?

For others: As I said before I expected utilities, especially dual-fuel utilities, to replace local substation transformers with neighborhood-sized SOFC fueled by Natural Gas. And I had expected by now we would have put them on pipelines for instrument power, and perhaps PEMs with propane reformers on inside forklifts and such.

Usually with new technologies one goes for the easy applications which take advantage of the special properties of the new system while avoiding the others, such as fuel availability and turn-down and ramp-up coupled with membrane life.

Aug 30, 2015
Look up my name and Proton Power LLC.


Proton Power LLC is a Suspended/Forfeited company which means it has failed to file the necessary tax information and payments to the state, and is therefore stripped of its rights to do business in California, sell propery or defend itself in court.

This often happens with fraudsters who drum up a lot of hype for products that don't exist or don't work and then run off with the investors' money, and leave the company to rot in a legal limbo.

And it appears you were the manager. In fact, the company appeared to have no workers at all: "all members are managers".

http://www.wysk.c.../profile


And this Einstein wants to call us goobers? How dumb can a dummy be?

@ glam-Skippy. Got any more proofs about how you are "conversant" on these physorg articles? You got to be as stupid as a cypress stump that was cut 71 years ago.

Aug 30, 2015
"For others: As I said before I expected utilities, especially dual-fuel utilities, to replace local substation transformers with neighborhood-sized SOFC fueled by Natural Gas."

Well First of all who is going to run these mini power plants? Secondly, Carbonate and SOFC fuel cells turn all of the carbon into waste heat so in order to have any efficiency at all they need to turn the heat into electricity. I doubt that this can be economically done on a neighborhood basis. Lastly, transformers are very efficient so what is being gained?

Aug 30, 2015
Good job gkam, you just put a link to your house into a place that despises you. Moron.

@Ira- We could call gkam Stumpy but the name is already taken by a much smarter fella.
Maybe call him Tex?

Aug 30, 2015
166, solid oxide fuel cells produce electricity.

By producing the power locally, we reduce line losses and decrease the granularity, giving us greater efficacy.

Aug 30, 2015
Estevan, you keep on advertising your character for all to see.

You're otto.

Aug 30, 2015
Estevan, you keep on advertising your character for all to see.

You're otto.


Cher, I got a good laughing at that one. I can not believe you typed him out with the straight face. You know you are the one advertising how smart you are not? I think that you might be the stupidest person who postums here, and Cher? That ain't a small accomplishment non. Skippy I am beginning to think your intention was to play the part of the couyon just to see if we would fall for a real person being that stupid.

You are the Tina Fey of the Tea-Party-Skippys playing like the super liberal.

You are like a Tea-Party-Skippy acting the stalking horse.

You really are the Tea-Party-Skippy making the war under a false flag.

Tell the trut, all that is what you are doing, eh?

Aug 31, 2015
Well, there are worse people to be confused with, but I can only think of one...

In another thread I told you if you think that I am Otto you are stupid. I still stand by that.

Suspended/Forfeited Company, why the hell are you proud of that?

Estevan, you keep on advertising your character for all to see.
You're otto.
- gkam

gkam, you keep on advertising your character for all to see.
You're stupid.

There, fixed it for you. You're welcome.

Aug 31, 2015
Why are you flexing and exposing your maladjustment to life in this forum? Don't you think your hates and fears are better off being demonstrated elsewhere?

This forum has become the playground of adolescents with smarty-pants verbiage and offensive attitudes, which push Real Folk away from the site. No professionals would dare talk like otto and denglish and 166, and Ira the Goober. Ira can speak like real folk, but puts on that silly stuff for tourists, and people he thinks he is fooling.

This thread about the catalysts shows how the Old Ways are disappearing, no matter the attitude of Deniers and the grossly maladjusted.

Aug 31, 2015
This thread about the catalysts shows,,,,,,,


that glam-Skippy didn't really know what catalysts are or do until Eikka-Skippy schooled him. Again. He thought they were not necessary anymore.

,,,,, how the Old Ways are disappearing, no matter the attitude of the grossly maladjusted.


Well you are the one who started with the "Look up my name and Proton Power LLC." foolishment. Then when peoples do look him up you want to change back to the catalysts. If you were going to be embarrassed with what we find why you ask us to look it up? Oh, I see, it was just the figure of speech and we misrepresented what you didn't really want us to see when you said it. So like everything else the Proton company foolishment is our fault too because you didn't think we were going actually doubt it was something really good about "conversant".

Skippy your main problem is you are not very "conversant" about how the interweb works. The other stuffs too but mainly that.

Aug 31, 2015
Ira, please outgrow this silly game of yours. Like otto, you cannot forgive being corrected. And like your otto, you assumed I was as phony as you two. When shown otherwise, you misrepresented the evidence I sent, unable to face the truth. It is your character which keeps you on these threads, pursuing a way to "get even".

Yes, I should have specified "precious metal" catalysts, as this was the point, but it gave you a way to criticize, although I doubt you understand how they work.

Now, do you have anything intelligent to say about catalysts, or are you hooked on personal sniping, devoid of intelligent remarks? These catalysts may put your Grand Gulf in mothballs, . . . including the coal bunkers.

Aug 31, 2015
Now, do you have anything intelligent to say about catalysts, or are you hooked on personal sniping,.


Non, not to much me. But I was hoping to hear some more about the Proton company today. Boy that sure was the funny one to "conversant" about.

Aug 31, 2015
Okay, Ira, Proton Power was the legal construct to hold the rights I had/still have to a 4kW PEM fuel cell. If I told you who we had it sold to, it would be fodder for more silly insinuations and personal attacks. So that is the end of it.

Aug 31, 2015
Estevan, you keep on advertising your character for all to see.

You're otto.
Naw I dont make lower receivers for AR15s from unannealed billets on CNC machines.

And I wouldnt pay my adolescent niece nickels to downrate every one of my posts.

I have some scruples you see.

Unlike george kamburoff who lies through his teeth and expects people here to welcome the behavior because he posts his real name along with a completely phony CV.

Wait-wait I am getting a vision. I can predict the future the way george can predict earthquakes just because he actually experienced a few (along with the strippers down at the nudie bar)....

I predict that georges ratings will be in the ones within a week.

Yes this is how smart I am.

Aug 31, 2015
"Unlike george kamburoff who lies through his teeth and expects people here to welcome the behavior because he posts his real name along with a completely phony CV"
----------------------------------

How do you know I gave out MY name, and not that of somebody else? It matters not, it is the name of a real person, not a sniper, not otto, an adolescent twisted by the need to get even with the guy who beat him at this own game of "gotcha".

This new catalyst promises to make the transition to new technologies easier. Ever work with any?

Aug 31, 2015
an adolescent twisted by the need to get even with the guy who beat him at this own game of "gotcha"
What are you talking about old man? You only think you win every argument because youre a psychopath, someone who is incapable of admitting he is wrong.

Be specific. Empty claims by lying cheaters have no weight here.
How do you know I gave out MY name, and not that of somebody else? It matters not, it is the name of a real person
So heres where the carapace is real thin and we can get a glimpse of the true bug underneath.

Are you claiming that george kamburoff is a pseudonym???
not a sniper
But you are a sniper. Your one-line t shirt posts are pure snipe.

Many people have told you this.

What I do: you lie or imply that your postings are true because george kamburoff has verifiable expertise. I and others look up what you post and check your credentials and find out you are full of shit.

This is not sniping. This is a community service.

Aug 31, 2015
" I and others look up what you post and check your credentials and find out you are full of shit."
--------------------------------

Can you please take your inability to admit failure, your silly little ego, your all-encompassing fixation, and go find some psychiatric help?

Sep 01, 2015
You do realize that you only think I have failed because you are a psychopath don't you?

To everyone else here you have been exposed.

Look at your ratings.

As a psychopath you are incapable of admitting defeat, and so your only defense is to ignore it.

This includes the 20+ jobs you lost, your continuing psychotherapy, and whatever personal relationships you have fucked up over the years.

These things were always someone else's fault weren't they?

No matter. HERE your word is shit. This is the result of your compulsive lying and making up facts and then claiming they are true just because you post your real name.

HERE everybody knows that this is a clear sign of true pathology.

Sep 01, 2015
"HERE your word is shit."
------------------------------------------

You have told us more about yourself than about me.

Go get help before you get violent. You display the same kind of fixations we saw in Ted Kaczynski.

Sep 01, 2015


Look at your ratings george. Look at all the trouble you cause here.

How do you explain them? Your answer is that they are caused by dumb goobers who don't appreciate how smart you are.

Sep 01, 2015
As to violence, you psychopaths have irrational ways of rationalizing that as well.

"From an interview with serial killer Elmer Wayne Henley:

"Interviewer: "You make it out that you're the victim of a serial killer, but if you look at the record you're a serial killer."
Henley: "I'm not."
I: "You're not a serial killer?"
H: "I'm not a serial killer."
I: You're saying you're not a serial killer now, but you've serially killed."
H: "Well, yeah, that's semantics.""

-I've never threatened anybody here. You in contrast have threatened many people. You have indicated a desire to kill gun owners.

I'm sure you feel you have a unique right to do these things.

Kaczynski was a psychopath, just like you.

Sep 01, 2015
No, otto, I do not threaten. I am non-violent.

You smear all this stuff together in your head, and it comes out like you want. Emotionally-unstable, you are becoming an obvious candidate for watching. Driven by your fixation on me and your need to "get even" with me for besting you, your psychopathy has been obvious here for a long time.

Please get help for your condition before you get violent.

This thread regards catalysts to help us get off the Petroleum Treadmill. Got any experience in electrochemistry or with fuel cells?

Sep 01, 2015
No, otto, I do not threaten. I am non-violent
Read the quotes. They show how psychopaths delude themselves.

In a recent thread you said that when you hear 'from my cold dead hands' of gun owners you think 'whichever way you want it'.

You've threatened many here including me with slander, outing, and monitoring of all my posts by your psychiatrists down at the VA.

How psychotic is that?

And the topic of every thread in your mind is always you. This is obvious. And when you post lies and claim your expertise and your real name make them true, you will ALWAYS be corrected.

Whether you enjoy this, the only attention a poor old shut-in ever gets, or not.

When sick old people puke on the floor someone's got to clean it up whether they are just doing it for attention or not.

Sep 01, 2015
And I'm sorry but you never 'bested' me. Provide an example please.

Claiming something is true is only sufficient for delusional egomaniacs like yourself.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more