The new catalyst has three different active sites for the reaction

Friday, August 26th, 2022

A research team led by Prof. Minhua Shao from the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at HKUST, has discovered a new fuel-cell catalyst to replace pure platinum:

It not only cuts down the proportion of platinum used by 80 percent, but it also set a record in terms of the cell’s durability level.

Despite a low portion of platinum, the new hybrid catalyst developed by the research team managed to maintain the platinum catalytic activity at 97% after 100,000 cycles of accelerated stress test, compared to the current catalyst which normally sees a drop of over 50% in performance after just 30,000 cycles. In another test, the new fuel cell did not show any performance decay after operating for 200 hours.

One reason behind such outstanding performance was the fact that the new catalyst has three different active sites for the reaction, instead of just one in current catalysts. Using a formula containing atomically dispersed platinum, iron single atoms, and platinum-iron nanoparticles, the new mix accelerates the reaction rate and achieves a catalytic activity 3.7 times higher than the platinum itself. Theoretically, the higher the catalytic activity, the greater the power it delivers.


  1. Goober says:

    You guys remember about ten years ago when fuel cells were universally touted as the next generation for automotive propulsion?

    Pepperidge Farms remembers.

    Whatever happened to that? Where did fuel cells go? That was a technology that actually looked like it might be a path forward, but then it just sort of dropped out of the public conscious and fizzled out.

    Anyone have any insight on it?

  2. Gavin Longmuir says:

    Fuel cells require hydrogen. Hydrogen does not occur naturally on Planet Earth — it has to be expensively manufactured using some other source of energy, like oil. Why not just use the oil directly in the engine?

    And then hydrogen is very difficult to contain, and has relatively low energy content per unit mass or unit volume. Not so useful for vehicles.

    The fuel cell is a solution looking for a problem.

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