New catalysts for gasoline cells: environment friendly and with persistently prime quality


Sep 30, 2021

(Nanowerk News) Fuel cells are sometimes utilized to generate electrical power from hydrogen or methanol. Nanoscale catalysts get the method going – however till now, the standard of those supplies has different considerably. The CAN analysis division of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP eradicated these issues: With an optimized catalyst and steady, reproducible manufacturing course of with excellent management over the fabric properties. Characterization of gasoline cells: A brand new take a look at system permits gasoline cells to be examined with the brand new catalysts, thus demonstrating the constant high quality of the catalyst particles. (Image: Fraunhofer IAP) Hydrogen is a future problem – H2 drives, for instance, are supposed to enrich electromobility in a significant means. Fuel cells assist to transform the chemical power saved in hydrogen or methanol into usable electrical power, i.e. to generate electrical energy. Nanoscale catalysts primarily based on platinum are used to attain this at manageable temperatures and with an inexpensive power enter. Previous strategies for his or her manufacturing are primarily based on batch syntheses and permit solely inadequate management over dimension, form and composition of the particles. However, these parameters have a robust influence on the catalysis course of. Nanoparticles are particularly appropriate as catalysts as a result of they’ve a big floor space in relation to the quantity of fabric used. Their use subsequently saves materials and thus prices. The downside is the standard of standard catalyst supplies can differ tremendously.

Continuous course of, reproducible product

Scientists within the Fraunhofer IAP’s analysis division CAN have now developed steady and environment friendly catalysts and optimized their manufacturing course of – within the HiKAB challenge, brief for “Hierarchical Composite Nanoparticle Systems for Application in Fuel Cells”, funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy BMWi (FKZ 03ET1435A). “We have converted the batch process into a continuous production process,” says Dr. Christoph Gimmler, division head at Fraunhofer IAP. “In doing so, we rely on a bottom-up process – building up the nanoparticles atom by atom. In this way, we can not only produce nanoparticles with consistent, high quality via synthesis guidance, but also selectively adjust size, type and composition of the catalyst particles.” In the reactor that the analysis workforce developed and constructed, this synthesis course of runs constantly – particularly the important nucleation phase. What’s particular: The workforce has separated the nucleation phase spatially and temporally from the expansion phase; on this means, the response temperatures, for instance, will be effectively managed. This permits excellent reproducibility of the method and the properties of the fabric produced. The researchers have additionally optimized the catalyst materials itself. “We have replaced part of the platinum with a less noble and thus less expensive metal,” Gimmler specifies. This not solely has a optimistic impact on materials prices, but in addition permits the catalyst to work extra effectively and will increase its service life. The proof of idea has already been supplied: The researchers have examined the produced catalysts in direct methanol gasoline cells – with success. In long-term exams, they’ll now analyze precisely how a lot the brand new supplies and the optimized manufacturing course of have to supply when it comes to value financial savings. From preliminary measurement outcomes, it’s clear that the catalysts developed are additionally extremely fascinating for hydrogen gasoline cells.

Analyzing supplies on the systemic degree

So far, the catalyst supplies developed by the analysis workforce within the HiKAB challenge may solely be examined electrochemically. In the ProkAB challenge, brief for “Processing and Characterization of Catalytically Active Nanoparticles for Application in Fuel Cells,” which is funded by the Authority for Science, Research, Equality and Districts (BWFGB), the Fraunhofer IAP has subsequently now established a gasoline cell take a look at rig for routine measurements. “We have expanded our characterization spectrum and are now able to test the materials we develop at the fuel cell level,” Gimmler reviews. “This allows us to perform the litmus test, so to speak – after all, even more parameters play a role at the system level than in the laboratory.” The Fraunhofer IAP thus affords experience not solely in supplies improvement but in addition within the characterization of gasoline cells.

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