When it comes to alternative energy solutions, many researchers are looking to fuel cells as a promising solution. With high theoretical efficiency levels and their environmentally friendly qualities, fuel cells could be an answer to both the energy crisis and climate issues. However, researchers are still looking at how to build a fuel cell so that it is not only efficient, but also cost effective.
Sadia Kabir, ECS student member and PhD student at the University of New Mexico, recently published a paper in the Journal of The Electrochemical Society detailing her novel work on graphene-supported catalysts for fuel cells. Kabir is moving from theory to proof with her new research, showcasing an efficient and economically viable fuel cell.
The research was compiled by an interdisciplinary team with representatives from the University of New Mexico, University of Portiers, and Franunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology.
This from the University of New Mexico:
[These fuel cells] can oxidize organic fuels like ethanol produced from bio-feedstocks, waste such as waste from corn production or the fermentation of sugar cane to generate small amounts of electricity. Moreover, the catalytic activity of the materials can be utilized as a source of other useful chemicals.
Under the guidance of Plamen Atanassov, ECS member and Science for Solving Society’s Problems Challenge grantee, Kabir worked on computational studies of graphene to see their stability and discover their electronic properties. From there, she moved on to synthesis.
“You can think of it as a one-pot synthesis because once we make it, we reuse it and do our characterization techniques to make sure we are producing what we want to,” says Kabir.
These fuel cells have the potential to be used in conjunction with agricultural or waste water treatment plants, where the device could filter contaminants and produce fuel for fuel cells as a byproduct.
Ideally, this technology will provide a way to produce chemicals and fuels from waste products without carbon dioxide emissions.