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Scientists create cheap and safe electro-catalysts for anion-exchange fuel cells

Scientists from the University of Surrey and their colleagues have produced non-metal electro-catalysts for fuel cells that could pave the way for production of low-cost, environmentally friendly energy generation.

In a study published in the Journal of Power Sources, the team from Surrey worked with colleagues from Queen Mary University of London to create low-cost carbon based electro-catalysts for anion-exchange membrane fuel cells (AEMFC). The catalyst helped to achieve a power density performance of 703 watts per square centimeter squared (mW cm-2) from the fuel cells—this compares to a performance of just 50 mW cm-2 from previous studies in this area.

The catalysts were made by using a cheap clay material called Halloysite as the template, urea as the nitrogen source and furfural (an organic chemical that can be produced from oats, wheat bran or sawdust) as the carbon source. This was then processed into a fine black powder and used as nitrogen-doped carbon electro-catalyst.

Compared with a benchmark Pt/C (20 wt%) catalyst, the as-prepared carbon catalysts demonstrated higher retention in diffusion limiting current density (after 3000 cycles) and enhanced methanol tolerances with only 50-60mV negative shift in half-wave potentials.

The project was supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council’s SUPERGEN Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Hub.


  • Yaxiang Lu, Lianqin Wang, Kathrin Preuß, Mo Qiao, Maria-Magdalena Titirici, John Varcoe, Qiong Cai (2017) “Halloysite-derived nitrogen doped carbon electrocatalysts for anion exchange membrane fuel cells,” In Journal of Power Sources, Volume 372, Pages 82-90 doi: 10.1016/j.jpowsour.2017.10.037



Recent research is developing more efficient FCs. This unit has one of the highest power density and could eventually operate on selected existing liquid fuels, for ground (fixed) and mobile operations.

Could be an acceptable solution for current H2 high cost?


....as well as high cost H2 current.


703 watts..they mean 703 milliwatts per square centimeter.

And Bri

The main problem is that these fuelcells cost more and there is no cheap hydrogen methods of production. 10 years ago i was positive about finding a way to produce a way to get plenty of plenty of compressed gazeous hydrogen gas in cheap 3600 psi tanks but after reading harvyd comments since the last 10 to 12 years im quiting the idea of believing plentiful cheap abondant hydrogen.


These could have a higher CO tolerance and could use reformed ethanol for the hydrogen.

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