Platinum nanowires may pave way for more efficient fuel cellsMarch 12th, 2009 - 2:46 pm ICT by ANI
Washington, Mar 12 (ANI): Researchers at the University of Rochester have created long platinum nanowires that may lead to the development of commercially viable fuel cells.
It is believed that the new wires could provide significant increases in both the longevity and efficiency of fuel cells, which have until now been used largely for such exotic purposes as powering spacecraft.
Lead author James C. M. Li, professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Rochester has said that nanowire enhanced fuel cells could power many types of vehicles, helping reduce the use of petroleum fuels for transportation.
“People have been working on developing fuel cells for decades. But the technology is still not being commercialised. Platinum is expensive, and the standard approach for using it in fuel cells is far from ideal. These nanowires are a key step toward better solutions,” said Li.
Roughly 10 nanometres in diameter, the platinum nanowires are long enough to create the first self-supporting “web” of pure platinum that can serve as an electrode in a fuel cell.
The scientists used a process known as electrospinning-a technique used to produce long, ultra-thin solid fibers-to create platinum nanowires that are thousands of times longer than any previous such wires.
“Our ultimate purpose is to make free-standing fuel cell catalysts from these nanowires,” said Li.
Within a fuel cell the catalyst facilitates the reaction of hydrogen and oxygen, splitting compressed hydrogen fuel into electrons and acidic hydrogen ions.
Then the electrons are routed through an external circuit to supply power, while the hydrogen ions combine with electrons and oxygen to form the “waste” product, typically liquid or vaporous water.
The naowires completely avoid all the problems linked with using platinum nanoparticles, which were earlier used for making fuel cells.
With platinum arranged into a series of centimetre long, flexible, and uniformly thin wires, the particles comprising them are fixed in place and need no additional support. Platinum will no longer be lost during normal fuel cell operation.
“The reason people have not come to nanowires before is that it’’s very hard to make them. The parameters affecting the morphology of the wires are complex. And when they are not sufficiently long, they behave the same as nanoparticles,” said Li.
The biggest challenge that the researchers overcame was to reduce the formation of platinum beads along the nanowires.
“With platinum being so costly, it’’s quite important that none of it goes to waste when making a fuel cell. We studied five variables that affect bead formation and we finally got it-nanowires that are almost bead free,” said Li.
Now, the researchers hope to further optimise laboratory conditions to obtain fewer beads and even longer, more uniformly thin nanowires.
“After that, we”re going to make a fuel cell and demonstrate this technology,” said Li.
The study has been published in the journal Nano Letters. (ANI)
- Novel nanowires to make fuel cells more durable and efficient - Apr 01, 2011
- Mimicking photosynthesis key to inexpensive solar-powered jet fuel - Feb 21, 2011
- Catalyst simulations for fuel cells may make clean cars a reality - Sep 18, 2009
- Fuel cells developed that may help paralysed move - Jun 14, 2012
- Scientists one-step closer to designing methane-powered laptops - Nov 24, 2010
- 'Holy Grail' of science, world's first practical 'artificial leaf' unveiled - Mar 28, 2011
- 'Artificial leaf' can power households cheaply - Mar 28, 2011
- Now, synthetic gasoline that is cheaper, eco-friendly - Jan 28, 2011
- Scientists build microbatteries with nanowire hearts - Dec 10, 2010
- Now plastic turned into power conductor - Feb 23, 2011
- Hydrogen-powered nano-battery on the anvil - Sep 26, 2010
- New material helps increase efficiency and decrease cost of fuel cells - Oct 19, 2009
- Novel way to turn water into hydrogen fuel found - Apr 12, 2010
- Now, hydrogen beads car-fuel that 'can cut CO2 emissions by 30pc' - Feb 02, 2011
- Copper nanowires could pave way for foldable iPad - Jun 02, 2010
Tags: author james, better solutions, catalysts, electrode, electrons, fibers, fuel cell, fuel cells, hydrogen fuel, hydrogen ions, james c, longevity, mechanical engineering, nanoparticles, nanowires, petroleum fuels, spacecraft, types of vehicles, university of rochester, viable fuel