New Graphene-based Nano Material Shows Promise in Cutting Fuel Cell Costs

Besides replacing platinum, the nanoplatelets also show higher tolerance to methanol crossover/CO poisoning effects and longer-term stability.

Published: 11-Jun-2013

Fuel cell technology has come a long way since the early days in the Apollo space program, but it is still a rather expensive module, limiting its wider application. A major reason are the platinum (Pt) catalysts used in most designs, which are costly and insufficient for industry demand.

As a possible solution for this, a new material which is both cheaper to make and better performing is now being developed by a research team of Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) in South Korea, Case Western Reserve University and University of North Texas. A news release about first successful tests of the new material says it could "pave a new way for affordable commercialization of fuel cells with efficient metal-free electrocatalysts using edge-halogenated graphene nanoplatelets.

Beside the high cost of platinum, another major drawback for commercialization of fuel cell technology is the sluggish oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) at cathode. Although, Pt and its alloys have been considered to be the most reliable cathodic ORR electrocatalysts in fuel cells, it also suffers from methanol crossover/carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning effects and poor long-term operation stability.


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