A new form of platinum that could be used to make cheaper, more efficient fuel cells has been created by researchers at the Department of Energy’s S-L-A-C National Accelerator Laboratory and the University of Houston. The process could help enable broader use of the devices, which produce emissions-free energy using hydrogen.
Fuel cells hold significant promise for clean energy because the cell’s only byproduct is water. But current fuel cell designs can require as much as 100 grams of platinum, pushing their price tags into the thousands of dollars. By tweaking platinum’s reactivity, the researchers were able to curtail the amount of platinum required by 80 percent, and hope to soon reduce it by another 10 percent, greatly trimming away at the overall cost.