Researchers from the University of Connecticut are pushing toward a hydrogen economy with the development of a new catalyst for cheaper, light-weight hydrogen fuel cells.
The catalyst — made of graphene nanotubes infused with sulfur — could potentially work to make hydrogen capture more commercially viable.
This development comes during a time where many people are looking to hydrogen in the search for a new, sustainable energy source. While hydrogen may be abundant, it often requires a costly and energy-consuming process to produce. However, if scientists could find an affordable and efficient way to capture hydrogen, it may begin to shift society away from the fossil fuel-driven economy toward a hydrogen economy.
The material developed by the University of Connecticut professors currently shows results that are competitive with some of the top materials traditionally used in these processes, but at a fraction of the cost.
The secret lies in the non-metal catalyst that has many of the same electrochemical properties as rare earth materials.
This from the University of Connecticut:
The process developed in [the researchers’] labs uses a dual doping procedure involving sulfur and benzyl disulfide treated at high heat. The researchers had to carefully add heteroatoms of sulfur at extremely low levels to strike the delicate balance needed to maintain usability and stability. Add too much sulfur and the sample would be unstable; not enough and it would be ineffective.