Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles have the potential to revolutionize the transportation system. From aiding the fight against climate change through clean emissions to reducing dependency on fossil fuels, hydrogen could potential help power the future and change mobility. Automakers believe that by 2020, there will be tens of thousands of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles on the road. In order to do this, we’re looking towards scientists to make innovation developments leading toward cheaper and more efficient technologies.
Creating a Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle
Shawn Litster, ECS member and associate professor at Carnegie Mellon University, is doing just that. Lister, along with ECS student member William Epting, is focusing his attention on energy technologies that utilize electrochemical devices to further research in the development of the near-perfect fuel cell vehicle.
(Check out a past meeting abstract by the two on fuel cell electrode analysis.)
“We’re looking for ways to minimize the impact of transportation on society and the environment,” said Litster.
Litster and his team have discovered that one of the reasons for the high cost of development for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles is the nanoscale polymer films. While these films offer a host of positive qualities, they require expensive platinum to operate properly.
Lowering Development Cost
To reduce the cost, the researchers began looking at ways to reduce the need for platinum.
This from Carnegie Mellon University:
Litster’s team set out to test these hypotheses by separating the platinum from the polymer and measuring the film’s oxygen transport resistance independently. (Previous studies have measured the resistance while the polymer was in contact with the platinum catalyst.) The team achieved this by supporting the thin polymer films on inert nano-porous polymer membranes. During their experiments, they found no dramatic change in the transport properties as they moved to films as thin as 30 nanometers.
“This gives us strong evidence that the origin of the resistance is the electrolyte acid’s interaction with the platinum,” said Litster.
In order to further promote green transportation technology, ECS and Toyota have teamed up to award fellowships to promising researchers working in green energy technology. Check out this year’s winners!