Fuel Cell Materials for Hydrogen-Powered Cars

FCLabs and manufacturers across the globe are pushing forward in an effort to develop a completely clean hydrogen-powered car. Whether it’s through the plotting of more fueling stations or new vehicle prototypes, many manufactures are hoping to bring this concept into reality soon.

However, there is still one very important aspect missing – the science and technology to produce the best and most efficient hydrogen fuel cell.

In ACS Central Science, two teams have independently reported developments in this field that may be able to get us one step closer to a practical hydrogen-powered car.

ICYMI: Listen to our podcast with Subhash C. Singhal, a world-leader in fuel cell research.

The catalysts currently used to produce the proper chemical reaction for hydrogen and oxygen to create energy is currently too expensive or just demands too much energy to be efficient. For this reason, these two teams – led by Yi Cui at Sanford University, and combining the scientific prowess of James Gerken and Shannon Stahl at the University of Wisconsin, Madison – are seeking a new material that could cause the same reaction at a lower price point and higher efficiency.

This from the American Chemical Society:

Cui’s group worked on the first reaction, developing a new cadre of porous materials for water splitting. They notably used earth abundant metal oxides, which are inexpensive. The oxides also are very stable, undergoing the reaction in water for 100 hours, significantly better than what researchers have reported for other non-precious metal materials. On the side of oxygen reduction, Gerken and Stahl show how a catalyst system commonly used for aerobic oxidation of organic molecules could be co-opted for electrochemical O2 reduction. Despite the complementary aims, the two studies diverge in their approaches, with the Stanford team showcasing rugged oxide materials, while the UW-Madison researchers exploited the advantages of inexpensive metal-free molecular catalysts. Together these findings demonstrate the power and breadth of chemistry in moving fuel-cell technology forward.

Read the full article here.

Want to learn more about the future of energy and how fuel cells fit into that picture? Make sure to attend the ECS Conference on Electrochemical Energy Conversion & Storage with SOFC-XIV this month in Glasgow, where you’ll be able to hear from top scientists in battery and fuel cells!

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