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New durable PEM fuel cell with platinum-free anode and carbon-free cathode

30 December 2013

Researchers at the Shanghai Institute of Ceramics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, have developed a prototype for single proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) with a mesostructured platinum-free WO3/C anode and a carbon-free Pt/WC cathode. This new PEMFC has a comparable power output to that of standard PEMFCs with commercial E-TEK Pt/C electrode catalysts at 70 °C, CO-poisoning-free features, and enhanced durability.

As one of the most important clean energy sources, proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) have been a topic of extensive research focus for decades. Unfortunately, several critical technique obstacles, such as the high cost of platinum electrode catalysts, performance degradation due to the CO poisoning of the platinum anode, and carbon corrosion by oxygen in the cathode, have greatly impeded its commercial development.

…The prototype cell exhibited 93% power output of a standard PEMFC using commercial Pt/C catalysts at 50 and 70 °C, and more importantly, CO poisoning-free and carbon corrosion-resistant characters of the anode and cathode, respectively. Consequently, the prototype cell demonstrated considerably enhanced cell operation durability. The mesostructured electrode catalysts are therefore highly promising in the future development and application of PEMFCs.

Resources

  • Cui, X., Shi, J., Wang, Y., Chen, Y., Zhang, L. and Hua, Z. (2013), “Mesostructured Platinum-Free Anode and Carbon-Free Cathode Catalysts for Durable Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells.” ChemSusChem. doi: 10.1002/cssc.201301079

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Comments

If this cell can be mass produced at a lower cost than regular PEM cells it could become a winner.

FCEVs and PHEVs equipped with an FC range extender are not dead yet. They may become competitive with BEVs and PHEVs by 2020 or so.

I wanted to say the same thing but HarveyD said it before me.. Anyway fuelcells are improving fast and also i won't buy any car till 2023 approx. So things are promising for my next car purchase in 10 years, im glad and eager to see the choice.

Next step is to really jump start a hydrogen infrastructure with a kilo of hydrogen selled at 2$/kilo.

The number of public EV charge stations are increasing at the rate of 30+%/year and has reached 6500+ in USA. If this trend continues, USA will have 13,000+ public charge stations by end of 2016 and close to 30,000 by end of 2019. This looks good by it is not quick enough.

H2 public stations are trailing far behind and much more has to be done to increase the installation rate.
Should FCEVs manufacturers join together to install the first 500 to 600 H2 stations along major motorways?

@Harvey,
If FCV's will be proven to be cost-effective and reliable and durable, which they will be, then the H2 filling infrastructure will follow effortlessly. As Davemart has repeatedly stated, that the H2 filling infrstructure will cost but 5% of the total cost associated with FCV's, so, investment cost is no big deal at all.

The most important thing is that H2 filling station is profitable, more so than gasoline station, due to the lower cost of making H2 in comparison to petroleum, and, with profits, comes more business development with private funding.

BEV charging station will not get the volume of business like H2 station because people will charge their PEV's mostly at home at night, so, PEV charging stations will have to be subsidized from the purchase cost of the PEV, or from tax payers, or from the purchase of "convenient" food or drinks, and this will make PEV expensive or less favorable than FCV.

Not so sure that future BEVs (with 5-5-5 batteries) will cost more to operate than future FCEVs, specially where cheap clean Hydro electricity is available 24/7.

However, where a high percentage of clean electricity comes from interruptible sources such as Wind and Solar, using H2 as an energy storage and energy source for FCEVs could be one of the preferred solution.

A PHEV with variable size 5-5-5- battery pack and a small FC range extender may become the 'fit all' solution?

@ Harvey,
When we have 5-5-5 batteries, wouldn't it be just as easy to charge them from intermittent renewables at a fixed location to charge the BEV's when needed? Then you don't have to convert to hydrogen. Just a thought.

Hydrogen will be needed due to overabundance of solar energy in summer, spring and fall with lower demand, while shortage of solar energy in winter when energy demand is the highest!

A string of cloudy and windless days means that a lot of stored energy will be needed, and the best way for bulk storage of RE is Hydrogen.

Yes, H2 could be an excellent buffer and storage media for intermittent e-energy sources?

FCEVs and PHEVs with FC range extender would benefit.

Your only choice to store intermittent electricity is hydrogen through electrolysis, and at that point you might as well use batteries.

It's tough to make an economic case for electrolyzed hydrogen as you can also buy power from nearby power markets.

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