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Power Science

New Catalyst May Be a Boost For Fuel Cells 130

Posted by Zonk
from the don't-forget-to-reverse-the-polarity dept.
Roland Piquepaille writes "Researchers at the University of Houston (UH) have developed a new platinum-based catalyst for fuel cells that is at least four times more efficient and cheaper than existing catalysts. This discovery in fuel cell research may ease reliance on gasoline. According to the researchers, the active phase of the catalyst consists of nanoparticles with a platinum-rich shell and a core made of an alloy of copper, cobalt, and platinum. But it's not enough for this new catalyst to be more efficient and cheaper than a pure platinum one. It also needs to work for a long time — say, the life of a car. So far, the preliminary results look promising, but longer-term testing is needed before this kind of fuel cells can be used to power your car."
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New Catalyst May Be a Boost For Fuel Cells

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  • by evanbd (210358) on Friday November 02, 2007 @05:01PM (#21217539)

    For now, it's batteries. But in the not too distant future, it may well be supercapacitors. Supercapacitors now are about a factor of ten away from lithium-ion batteries; improvements that are currently in labs appear to be able to remove most or all of that gap. Right now supercapacitors are expensive, but once the market starts growing they should come down in price. There are relatively fundamental limits to how much better traditional batteries can get in terms of capacity, but the apparent limits on supercapacitors are phenomenal. It might be 10 years before they see serious use, but I imagine small-scale use will be here sooner than that, especially if the rumors [arstechnica.com] are to be believed.

    Fuel cells are interesting, but I think that direct electrical storage through batteries and later supercapacitors is more likely to actually work out.

  • by 2ms (232331) on Friday November 02, 2007 @05:11PM (#21217655)
    Perhaps you aren't aware that the first production fuel cell vehicle is going to be available to the public this coming January? Yes, diesels are the most efficient method right now and more people should be driving them. But this fuel cell Equinox is extremely impressive. Has the interior room of a normal small SUV, and of course the zero emmissions etc.

    Also, the Tesla car is hardly anything remarkable. It costs $100,000 and is basically just a Lotus Elise/Opel Speedster with an electric drive-train retrofit. They're more like very expensive kit cars than a ture production EV. Oh, and you do know where electricity comes from, right? It mostly comes from burning coal -- much worse emissions than a modern automotive IC engine.

    I agree that EVs are the ultimate future, but we need more nuclear powerplants and/or hydrogen fuel cells for them to truly be better for the environment.
  • by benhocking (724439) <benjaminhocking@@@yahoo...com> on Friday November 02, 2007 @05:17PM (#21217727) Homepage Journal
    You can get hydrogen from water, for example. It does require energy to extract that hydrogen, but you can use nuclear, wind, or solar power to perform that extraction. The reality is that oil is very unlikely to factor in to producing hydrogen. Unfortunately, coal is the most likely means for producing the requisite energy. For those whose only goal is to liberate us from dependence on Mid-East oil, it's a win. For those of us who care about the environment, it depends on what the energy source is, and is very likely a loss.
  • by cakilmer (720316) on Saturday November 03, 2007 @02:45AM (#21221895) Journal
    The cheapest way to extract hydrogen from water, imho, will be to use John Kanzius radio wave machine [wordpress.com] which--judging by related patents-- immitates the resonance of platinum so as to act as an artificial catalyst.

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