Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Cutting the Cost of Fuel Cell Catalysts by a Factor of 650?

Platinum, which represents at least a quarter of the cost of fuel cells, currently sells for about $65,000 per kilogram. These researchers say their activated carbon nanotubes cost about $100 per kilogram. _Physorg
That sounds like a significant reduction in the costs of fuel cells if the new catalysts work as advertised. Engineers from Case Western Reserve University have got a lot of tricks up their sleeve, which may change the face of the global fuel cell market.
In testing, the fuel cell produced as much power as an identical cell using a platinum catalyst.

But the activated nanotubes last longer and are more stable, the researchers said. Unlike platinum, the carbon-based catalyst: doesn't lose catalytic activity and, therefore, efficiency, over time; isn't fouled by carbon monooxide poising; and is free from the crossover effect with methanol. Methanol, a liquid fuel that's easier to store and transport than hydrogen, reduces activity of a platinum catalyst when the fuel crosses over from the anode to the cathode in a fuel cell. _Physorg
The engineer-researchers have plans that may actually increase efficiency of the nanotube catalysts over that of platinum. That would be quite an accomplishment -- but actually just a trifle of an early hint of the possibilities for the new age of nano. Catalysis is a particularly promising area for nanotechnology, but there are quite a few other radical changes which are certainly on the way.

Buckle up.

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