Researchers at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) have developed a new hydrogen fuel cell that is not only the longest in the world but also less expensive, opening the way for the widespread use of green energy in space. To pursue a carbon-neutral world.
Hydrogen fuel cells are a promising clean energy option as they produce energy by converting hydrogen and oxygen into electricity without releasing carbon dioxide, particles, and other pollutants that can cause smoke and other health problems. Despite their natural advantages and years of development, hydrogen fuel cells are still relatively commercially viable. Their energy production is highly dependent on electrocatalyst-composed mainly of expensive and rare metal platinum.
Scientists have tried to develop alternative methods by adding platinum to more common and less expensive materials such as iron-nitrogen-carbon. Still, these have been proven less effective in generating electricity or less durable.
Now, a team of researchers led by Prof. Shao Minhua of the Department of Chemical and Organic Engineering at HKUST has discovered a new formula that can reduce the amount of platinum used by 80 percent and set a record in terms of cell density.
Despite the low platinum content, the newly developed team hybrid catalyst was able to maintain platinum catalytic activity to 97% after 100,000 cycles of rapid pressure testing, compared to the current catalyst, which usually sees a 50% decrease in post-operative performance of 30,000 cycles. . In another experiment, a new fuel cell showed no performance degradation after working 200 hours.
One reason behind such excellent performance is that the new catalyst has three active reaction sites instead of one in the current catalyst. The unique mix accelerates the reaction rate using a formula containing atom-dispersed platinum, a single iron atom, and platinum-iron nanoparticles. It reaches catalytic activity 3.7 times higher than the platinum itself. Theoretically, the higher the catalytic activity, the greater the growth potential.
Prof. Shao, the Director of the HKUST Energy Institute, says that “hydrogen fuel cell is a vital energy conversion tool in our quest for a carbon-neutral world. There is a need to increase its use during our fight against climate change. Thanks to the Government’s Green Tech Fund, we will strive to refine the catalyst further and integrate it with gasoline vehicles and other electronic devices.”