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PHOTO CAPTION: General Motors fuel cell stack reportedly requires $40,000 worth of platinum.

Danish Researchers Cut Fuel Cell Platinum By 80 Pct

University of Copenhagen researchers find way to cut $40,000 worth of Platinum in fuel cells like those used by GM, to less than $10,000.

Published: 24-Jul-2013

Hydrogen fuel cells, which could find applications from vehicles to backup power supplies, suffer from one important drawback – expense.

Current mass-produced hydrogen fuel cell catalysts employ a small amount of platinum to sustain the reaction necessary to generate electricity from hydrogen. Most importantly, platinum is non-corroding, which helps the fuel cell last a long time. The problem is that platinum is rarer and more expensive than gold. The current General Motors fuel cell uses 30g of platinum, which is better than $40,000 for the platinum alone. Still, automakers are planning on rolling out hydrogen fuel cell vehicles that will probably start at over $50,000 for a basic sedan.

Recent discoveries by researchers at the University of Copenhagen could lead to significant cost reductions by optimizing the platinum catalysts used in hydrogen fuel cells. They determined that the average fuel cell stack available on the market today generates about 1A/mg Pt [Platinum]. Platinum is used is varying ways to form a hydrogen fuel cell catalyst, particles and nanoparticles being more efficient than sheets.

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