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Pure-Platinum is out, Iron-Platinum is in

The cost and rapid rate of deterioration of pure-platinum catalysts has stalled the advancement of fuel-cell technology until now. Brown University chemists and authors in the Journal of American Chemical Society have found a particle that lasts longer and outperforms any commercially available pure-platinum catalyst. 

Chemists at Brown University have replaced pure-platinum catalysts with a nanoparticle consisting of a five-nanometer palladium core and an iron-platinum shell.  This new particle uses far less platinum than the former and is much more efficient and long-lasting as far as the cathode end of fuel-cell reactions go. 

At the fuel cell's cathode of this new nanoparticle, a chemistry known as oxygen reduction reaction occurs creating water as it's waste instead of carbon dioxide produced by internal combustion systems. Since the cathode is where 40 percent of a fuel cell's efficiency is depleted, this is a critical act that could help fuel-cell's become more competitive with batteries and internal combustion engines.

Lab tests show that the palladium core/iron-platinum shell nanoparticles "generated 12 times more current than commercially available pure-platinum catalysts at the same weight." In addition, the output lasted 10,000 cycles, which is 10 times longer than commercially available pure-platinum models that begin to break down after 1,000 cycles. 

According to Vismadeb Mazumder, a Brown University graduate student and co-author, the idea was to mold a shell so that it would keep its shape while requiring the least amount of platinum to make an efficient reaction. The iron-platinum shell was made by decomposing iron pentacarbonyl and reducing platinum acetylacetonate, which resulted in a shell that is only 30 percent platinum. In the future, these chemists expect to be able to make thinner shells with even less platinum. 

Currently, Mazumder and fellow co-author Shouheng Sun, professor of chemistry at Brown, are working to find why the catalytic abilities of the iron-platinum shell are increased by the palladium core. They think the transfer of electrons between the core and shell metals might be the cause, and both chemists are trying to use a more chemically active metal than palladium as the core to "confirm the transfer of of electrons in the core-shell arrangement. and its importance to the catalysts function." In addition, they created iron-platinum shells varying from one to three nanometers in width, with one-nanometer functioning the best.

"This is a very good demonstration that catalysts with a core and a shell can be made readily in half-gram quantities in the lab, they're active and they last," said Mazumder. "The next step is to scale them up for commercial use, and we are confident we'll be able to do that."

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I came for the racism...
By RapidSnail on 5/25/2010 12:22:56 PM , Rating: 5
...I am disappoint

RE: I came for the racism...
By Spookster on 5/25/2010 12:36:36 PM , Rating: 2
Always tryin to keep da white chemists down.

RE: I came for the racism...
By Breathless on 5/25/2010 12:49:43 PM , Rating: 2
Na, its dem white chemists keepin da brown chemists down :)

RE: I came for the racism...
By Jedi2155 on 5/25/2010 5:54:26 PM , Rating: 2
'N all dem chemists keeping the black chemists down.

RE: I came for the racism...
By shin0bi272 on 5/25/2010 11:53:33 PM , Rating: 2
nah they are working on "other" projects

Palladium core?
By ltfields03 on 5/25/2010 1:12:17 PM , Rating: 2
Amazing the scientific breakthroughs you think of while watching Iron Man... ;)

RE: Palladium core?
By Jedi2155 on 5/25/2010 5:59:32 PM , Rating: 3
Obviously they need to invent a new element to truly bring fuel cells into the market. Damn neutron poisoning!

Having actually driven some fuel cell vehicles for reliability testing and talked with one of the lead managers at GM's fuel cell department, I still don't think they'll be competitive with battery/gas based electric vehicles anytime in the next decade.

RE: Palladium core?
By RamarC on 5/26/2010 10:53:29 AM , Rating: 2
just wait till they replace the palladium core with an adamantium core!

By Murloc on 5/25/2010 2:26:26 PM , Rating: 2
I thought that the discovery was made by brown chemists!

you know, something between black and white chemists.

RE: brown?
By Jellodyne on 5/25/2010 2:53:35 PM , Rating: 2
I think you mean Grey chemists.

RE: brown?
By FS on 5/25/2010 11:10:30 PM , Rating: 2
coincidentally, both of them are brown ;)

How often...
By Qapa on 5/25/2010 8:25:28 PM , Rating: 2
Is something:
- cheaper? (less platinum)
- produces 12x more energy?
- lasts 10 times longer?

I can only say WOW!

Btw, and on the other hand, since this is only part of a complete system, what are the real impacts without improvements on the other parts? Anyone?

Still, whatever the answer, it is great for that component!

RE: How often...
By shin0bi272 on 5/26/2010 12:04:29 AM , Rating: 1
what you are referring to in the first part of your post is called progress and free market capitalism.

The second part of your post... well its still in the proof of concept stage so your question about the rest of the system might prove poignant. But IIRC the major issue of the electric/hybrid car is the battery lifetime/range/recharge cycle time. So if they can improve these to a reasonable recharge time (say 20 min on 480v or a couple of hours on 120v), and a reasonable range (200+ miles to the charge), with a reasonably long battery life (like longer than 10 years for most people) then the electric car will become a more viable option for your daily driver. Additionally that would drive gas prices way down too.

RE: How often...
By sleepeeg3 on 5/26/2010 12:43:50 AM , Rating: 2
Improvements to electric batteries as seen here on DailyTech several years ago:

...and again running into reality roadblock:

Please update the Link
By cpeter38 on 5/25/2010 12:12:03 PM , Rating: 2
Your link in "Brown University chemists and authors in the Journal of American Chemical Society" leads to a publication titled "Monodisperse Nickel Nanoparticles and Their Catalysis in Hydrolytic Dehydrogenation of Ammonia Borane".

Would you please update it?

RE: Please update the Link
By cpeter38 on 5/25/2010 12:22:16 PM , Rating: 2
wow, amazing...
By semo on 5/25/2010 1:41:27 PM , Rating: 2
...i bet we never hear of this again.

RE: wow, amazing...
By shin0bi272 on 5/25/2010 11:55:08 PM , Rating: 2
Like all articles on new technology here on DT... gone and slowly forgotten.

By monkeyman1140 on 5/26/2010 12:22:01 AM , Rating: 2
The oil industry has been pushing this technology because they know it will never be cheap enough to put in a production car. They have bribed government officials into funding a technology unsuitable for automobiles. Meanwhile this takes funding away from battery powered cars while we chase fuel cell dreams, eco-journalists fall for this technology trap, and we continue to drive gasoline fueled cars for the next 50 years.

Don't fall for it.

By sleepeeg3 on 5/26/2010 12:36:04 AM , Rating: 2
"Nano" is latin for expensive.

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