Fuel cells can vary from tiny devices producing only a few watts of electricity, right up to large power plants producing megawatts. All fuel cells are based around a central design using two electrodes separated by a solid or liquid electrolyte that carries electrically charged particles between them. A catalyst is often used to speed up the reactions at the electrodes. Fuel cell types are generally classified according to the nature of the electrolyte they use.
Professor Peter Strasser and his team who work at the Electrochemistry for Energy conversion and Storage at the Technical University of Berlin have developed and produced new dealloyed Pt-Co (78-1685) and Pt-Cu (78-1688) core shell catalysts for the ORR (Oxygen Reduction Reaction) in fuel cells which are now licensed by Strem Chemicals Inc
Since there is currently still no valid alternative for platinum electrodes in this reaction, all current fuel cells need a substantial amount of this precious metal.
Core shell nanoparticles can lessen the demand for platinum by having a shell of platinum covering a core of less noble and less expensive base metals.
These particles are prepared by impregnation of a carbon support with metal salts. The mixture is then dried, reduced and finally thermally alloyed yielding Pt-M alloys where M = Co and Cu. The materials are then chemically dealloyed and tested. In some cases, the performance of the dealloyed system is superior to pure Pt catalysts.
For more information on this topic, please read the article written by Professor Dr. Peter Strasser in our Materials for Energy Applications booklet: