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Chevrolet Equinox fuel cell vehicle  (Source: DailyTech)
New catalyst is 2000 times more tolerant of carbon monoxide

The quest for alternative fuel sources that are cleaner, cheaper, and more abundant than traditional fossil fuels is underway around the world. Researchers are studying everything from battery power to solar energy and fuel cells.

Fuel cells hold great promise and have long been studied as alternatives to fossil fuels. Traditionally, the problems plaguing fuel cell-powered vehicles that run from hydrogen include how to produce the hydrogen cheaply and how to store it safely. Despite issues that still surround fuel cell-powered vehicles, a study conducted in June by Pike Research found that within the next decade 670,000 fuel cell powered vehicles would be sold each year.

Researchers at the Cornell University Energy Materials Center have made a breakthrough discovery that will make hydrogen fuel cell power much more economical. The breakthrough comes in the form of a new catalyst that uses platinum nanoparticles. Platinum is traditionally used in fuel cells as the catalyst, but platinum is expensive and can be easily deactivated in the presence of even low levels of carbon monoxide rendering the fuel cell inoperable.

The Cornell researchers have discovered a method of making the platinum catalyst able to withstand thousands of times more carbon monoxide. The process also makes the platinum catalyst material much cheaper to produce. The team created the catalyst using platinum nano particles that are deposited on a support material of titanium oxide. The team then added tungsten to increase the electrical conductivity of the catalyst. The resulting platinum catalyst is 2,000 times more resistant to carbon monoxide than a catalyst using pure platinum. 

That higher resistance to carbon monoxide means that the fuel cell can burn hydrogen with as much as 2% carbon monoxide in it. The researchers say this is very important because hydrogen derived from petroleum has a high concentration of carbon monoxide in it. The ability for the catalyst to withstand more carbon monoxide eliminates the need to clean the hydrogen as much, thereby reducing the cost of making hydrogen.

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RE: Meh...
By tng on 8/3/2010 10:35:59 AM , Rating: 3
reduce the CO2 to 2% and whether that becomes economically viable.
I am not sure if you read the article right. They are not concerned with Carbon Di oxide, it is Carbon Mon oxide they want below 2% in the fuel.

I look at this as what will really be the alternative to EVs which have issues, have always had issues and probably will continue to have issues for most people.

While cars like the Volt and the Leaf get allot of print from a press that knows no better, they have serious limitations.

Since there is already an existing infrastructure of gas and diesel stations out there, it makes sense to turn these to include hydrogen as well and take advantage of the in place logistics that are there.

I know that there are a bunch of you out there who ignore such practicalities as this, but to have any chance of any of these emissions reduction vehicles like this out there and in mass use, this is what will have to happen.

Also I have noted a tendency on the part of may here to want to just tear down Big Oil, no matter what. Even if it is at the cost of a real solution. In the end we will need the infrastructure that Big Oil has put in to make this work. Even if it is just a pure EV it would still make sense to use a regular gas station as a quick charge stop.

In answer to your last statement, if the current rate of development is continued and the existing gas stations are converted to Hydrogen, this could start to happen within 5-10 years, in my opinion.

"We shipped it on Saturday. Then on Sunday, we rested." -- Steve Jobs on the iPad launch

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