Catalyst cuts fuel cell cost, boosts durabilityS. Himmelstein | August 01, 2022
An alternative to the pure platinum catalyst used in proton exchange membrane fuel cells can cut the cost of operating these power devices while enhancing system durability. Researchers from the U.S. and China have synthesized a new electrocatalyst that can lead to an 80% reduction in the amount of platinum consumed and extend hydrogen fuel cell service life.
The hybrid catalyst incorporates atomically dispersed platinum, iron single atoms and platinum-iron nanoparticles to form three different active sites for fuel cell reactions instead of the single site associated with other available catalysts. This formula accelerates the reaction rate and achieves a catalytic activity 3.7 times higher than the platinum itself, signaling delivery of more power.
Despite its minimized platinum content, the new hybrid catalyst maintained platinum catalytic activity at 97% after 100,000 cycles of accelerated stress testing, compared to the current catalyst, which normally sees a drop of over 50% in performance after 30,000 cycles. Additional testing demonstrated no fuel cell performance decay after operating for 200 hours.
The research conducted by scientists from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, U.S. Argonne National Laboratory, University of South China, Northwestern Polytechnical University (China), Southern University of Science and Technology (China) and Chongqing University (China) is published in Nature Catalysis.