Nanotechnology theory guides synthesis of better catalysts for fuel cells

By combining more precise core-shell nanoparticle synthesis techniques with electronic structure theory to predict the properties of nanoparticles, nanotechnology researchers have produced a better catalyst for fuel cells. From “‘Designer’ catalyst fights fuel cell poisoning“:

US scientists have designed from first principles nanoparticles that efficiently oxidise carbon monoxide (CO) — a contaminant commonly found in hydrogen used to run fuel cells.

A major problem facing fuel cells is that the hydrogen-rich materials feeding the reaction often contain CO, which is formed during hydrogen production. This CO ‘poisons’ the electrodes in the fuel-cell devices, deteriorating their efficiency.

Now, a team led by Bryan Eichhorn of the University of Maryland and Manos Mavrikakis of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, have designed and made a catalyst for the preferential oxidation (PROX) of CO comprising a ruthenium (Ru) core inside a Platinum (Pt) shell…

The research was published in Nature Materials (abstract).

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