Fuel Cell Research

Fuel Cell Research

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Credit: BROOKHAVEN NATIONAL LABORATORY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

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Caption: As part of an ongoing effort to produce efficient and affordable fuel cells, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory are looking for ways to use gold to prevent the destruction of platinum in the chemical reactions that take place in fuel cells. Platinum is the most efficient electrocatalyst for accelerating chemical reactions in fuel cells. However, in reactions during the stop-and-go driving of a fuel-cell-powered electric car, the platinum dissolves. In accelerated tests, as much as 45 percent of the catalyst can be lost during five days. So BNL scientists are looking for a way to preserve it. A team of Brookhaven researchers added gold clusters to a platinum electrocatalyst, which kept it intact during an accelerated stability test that simulates stop-and-go driving in an electric car. In the unique method used at Brookhaven, researchers place gold on carbon-supported platinum nanoparticles by displacing a single layer of copper and subject it to several sweeps of voltage. The copper is needed to reduce the charged gold particles to neutral atoms; it then conveniently forms a monolayer of

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