PROVIDENCE, R.I., May 27 (UPI) — U.S. chemists say a nanoparticle with a palladium core and an iron-platinum shell can outperform commercially available pure-platinum fuel cell catalysts.
The scientists at Brown University and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory said their finding could move fuel cells a step closer to reality.
The researchers said creating catalysts that can operate efficiently and last a long time has been a big barrier in fuel-cell technology. Platinum has been the choice for many researchers, but platinum has two major downsides: It’s expensive, and it breaks down over time in fuel-cell reactions.
In the new research led by Professor Shouheng Sun, the scientists said they created a unique core and shell nanoparticle that uses far less platinum, yet performs more efficiently and lasts longer than commercially available pure-platinum catalysts at the cathode end of fuel-cell reactions.
The research team — including Brown graduate student Vismadeb Mazumder, as well as Miaofang Chi and Karren More at the Oak Ridge Laboratory — created a five-nanometer palladium core and encircled it with a shell consisting of iron and platinum.
In laboratory tests, the palladium/iron-platinum nanoparticles generated 12 times more current than commercially available pure-platinum catalysts at the same catalyst weight. The output also remained consistent during 10,000 cycles, at least 10 times longer than commercially available platinum models, the scientists said.
The research appears in The Journal of the American Chemical Society.
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