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Platinum has long been used as a catalyst to enable the oxidation reduction reaction at the center of fuel cell technology. But the metal's high cost is one factor that has hindered fuel cells from competing with cheaper ways of powering automobiles and homes.
Now researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a new platinum-based catalytic system that is far more durable than traditional commercial systems and has a potentially longer lifespan. The new system could, over the long term, reduce the cost of producing fuel cells.
Study - July - ACS - Journal - Nano
In the study, which was published July 15 in the ACS journal Nano Letters, the researchers described a possible new way to solve one of the key causes of degradation of platinum catalysts, sintering, a process in which particles of platinum migrate and clump together, reducing the specific surface area of the platinum and causing the catalytic activity to drop.
To reduce such sintering, the researchers devised a method to anchor the platinum particles to their carbon support material using bits of the element selenium.
Strategies - Sintering - Platinum - Particles - Size
"There are strategies out there to mitigate sintering, such as using platinum particles that are uniform in size to reduce chemical instability among them," said Zhengming Cao, a visiting graduate student at Georgia Tech. "This new method using selenium results in a strong metal-support interaction between platinum and the carbon support material and thus remarkably enhanced durability. At the same time, the platinum particles can be used and kept at a small to attain high catalytic activity from the increased specific surface area."
The process starts by loading nanoscale spheres of selenium onto the surface of a commercial carbon support. The selenium is then...
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