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Doped Carbon Nanotubes Replace Platinum in Fuel Cells

In the past I’ve talked about the need to both reduce and eliminate the need for platinum in fuel cells in order for hydrogen cars and vehicles to become economically viable. It makes no sense to pour a million or so hydrogen cars on the road only to be hit with a worldwide shortage of platinum.

So, for the past several years, one of the major barriers to introducing hydrogen cars in the marketplace has been reducing the price of the fuel cells and their most expensive component, platinum. To this extent, researchers at the University of Dayton, Ohio have discovered that bundled carbon nanotubes doped with nitrogen can be used to replace platinum in fuel cells.

Before this research, carbon nanotubes were being used with only minor success and the catalytic reaction was thought to be because of the trace amounts of iron from the manufacturing process. But, Dr. Liming Dai, Professor of Chemistry at the University of Dayton, was able to show that iron had a detrimental effect on the process and nitrogen was much more robust in aiding the catalytic reaction.

Dr. Dai also believes that other, cheaper forms of nitrogen doped carbon will also be able to be used. As the research for the perfect platinum-free fuel cell is ongoing it is important to remember where we have come in just a few short years, (where the size of many fuel cells were double what they are today), and what a few short years of future development will bring.

About Hydro Kevin Kantola

Hydro Kevin Kantola
I'm a hydrogen car blogger, editor and publisher interested in documenting the history and the progression of hydrogen cars, vehicles and infrastructure worldwide.

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3 comments

  1. When will cars like the Honda FCX Clarity and Chevrolet Equinox FCV have the platinum in their fuel cells replaced with cheaper carbon nanotubes? By how much will carbon nanotubes reduce the per kW price of fuel cells? How durable are carbon nanotubes compared with the platinum they are replacing?

    If the fuel cell drops enough in price and becomes more durable, the means of
    supplying hydrogen will be the only major area in need of further development.

  2. admin

    Yes, these are all great questions and only the future knows the answers right now. I share your enthusiasm for another puzzle piece to the hydrogen vehicle transportation system that will be falling into place not too long from now.

  3. is the anode working with the cathod using same material use to and then and replace platium also.at both cathoid and anode.

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