|New Hydrogen Catalyst Takes off Like a Rocket|
The next generation of low-cost fuel cells could take your home off the grid and free your car from the gas pump with clean, renewable energy, and researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have brought us one step closer to that future.
The team has deployed a biomimicry-based hydrogen production process that combines high speed with high energy efficiency, thanks to a catalyst that “lights up like a rocket.”
An obstacle for low-cost fuel cells
So far, researchers have found ways to make cheaper nickel-based catalysts work more quickly, or use less energy, but not both at the same time.
In its initial form, the team’s “imitation” hydrogenase catalyst could produce hydrogen molecules at a snail’s pace of about 1,000 per second.
It could also produce at the rate of 100,000 per second, but only under energy-intensive conditions.
The breakthrough came when the team dissolved the catalyst in a solution of salts called an ionic liquid. When they slowly added water to the mix, the catalyst began to light up “like a rocket” according to PNNL chemist John Roberts.
At its best rate, the catalyst cranked out 53,000 molecules of hydrogen per second without a loss of energy efficiency.
Next steps for biomimicry fuel cells
For now, the team will continue to study the catalyst in its dissolvable form, but for real-world applications they will eventually need to bind it to a fixed surface.
Source: GO MEDIA: Writen by TINA CASEY