Nanotechnology has already helped provide many breakthroughs in all areas of science, technology and engineering. Scientists in the UK and Iran are now using nanotechnology to aid in creating cheaper and more durable fuel cells for cars and production of hydrogen.
According to Nanowerk, “…Ulster scientists have found a cheaper solution that could help bring fuel cell devices a step closer to the market. To create a catalyst system that can tolerate more carbon monoxide, they deposited platinum nanocrystals on a support material of graphene oxide and reduced it slightly to increase its electrical conductivity.
“They used a simple scalable, fast and eco-friendly microwave approach that has the advantage of reducing graphene oxide (RGO) and forming platinum nanoparticles simultaneously. To test the activity of the Pt/RGO the team looked at the oxidation of methanol – a reaction that takes place at the anode of a methanol fuel cell. Their research shows that the new material displays an unprecedented CO poisoning tolerance, a much better long term stability and a higher electrocatalytic activity than those exhibited by commercially available carbon-supported Pt (Pt/C) electrocatalysts.”
In Iran, scientists are using fuel cells in reverse to produce cheap, purified hydrogen gas. According to researcher Saleheh Asqari, “We first synthesized and stabilized the low-cost nanoscale copper on the surface of modified polymeric glassy carbon electrode, then synthesized platinum metallic nanoparticles by Galvanic replacement of copper nanoparticles with platinum ions and propagated them on the modified polymeric electrode surface.
“The content of the deposited platinum nanoparticles on the electrode surface is very low in this method. As a matter of fact, the most decomposing yield is produced by deposition of the least amount of platinum on the modified polymeric electrode surface.”
So, scientists from around in the globe in friendly and not so friendly nations are working on the problem of producing more efficient and cheaper fuel cells. The wisdom of producing such fuel cells for cars knows no geopolitical boundaries.
It is because of this competition with other nations that in the U. S. we need to step up our game and become world leaders and not world laggards in developing hydrogen fuel cell technology.