|제목||Capturing platinum for a cleaner future—a novel improvement to hydrogen fuel cells|
|prof.||에너지화학공학과 권오중 교수님|
Capturing platinum for a cleaner future—a novel improvement to hydrogen fuel cells
Researchers at Incheon National University found a simple way to produce an incredibly stable catalyst for hydrogen fuel cells, promoting the use of pure hydrogen as a clean fuel for generating electricity.
Hydrogen fuel cells, which use hydrogen to generate electricity, are key devices for adopting hydrogen as a clean alternative to fossil fuels. Engineering stable materials for the cathodes of these cells is a crucial task.
Photo courtesy: Shutterstock
There have been substantial efforts to reduce our usage of fossil fuels over the past decades, in line with environmental and sustainability concerns foreshadowing a grim future if we don’t change our ways. Hydrogen (H2) is an alternative clean fuel that can be converted into electrical energy using hydrogen fuel cells. These fuel cells consist of a cathode, an anode, and an electrolyte. At the anode, H2 is split into two protons (H+) and two electrons. The electrons travel through an external circuit toward the cathode, producing the output current of the cell. Meanwhile, the protons permeate through the electrolyte and reach the cathode, where they recombine with the electrons and with oxygen from air that is pumped from outside. This produces heat and water (H2O), the only “waste” product of the system.
The most difficult part in fuel cell design is finding a suitable catalyst for the cathode side reactions. Catalysts are substances that help a desired reaction happen as intended; currently, fuel cells mainly rely on platinum (Pt)-based catalysts. However, these catalysts are unstable, as Pt particles tend to either dissolve into their surroundings or agglomerate, severely hindering their performance. Fortunately, scientists from Incheon National University in Korea found a clever solution to the problem of catalyst instability. They have documented their findings in a paper published in Energy & Environmental Science.
These scientists found a method whereby Pt nanoparticles can be encapsulated individually into a “carbon net.” This net, which the researchers have labeled as “carbon shell,” acts as a selective membrane that lets oxygen atoms go through the holes but prevents Pt nanoparticles from dissolving and agglomerating; they are simply too big to go through the net. These encapsulated Pt nanoparticles are uniformly distributed and attached onto a supporting structure made of carbon nanofibers, providing a large surface area onto which oxygen and hydrogen can combine to form water.
Experimental results confirm that the proposed catalyst works as intended
and outperforms its competition in terms of stability. “To the best of our
knowledge, the proposed catalyst is the most stable one for hydrogen fuel cells
that has been reported to date,” remarks Prof. Oh Joong Kwon, who led the
study. The benefits, however, don’t end there, as Prof. Kwon adds: “The
synthesis strategy developed in this work may be readily applied to other metal core–carbon shell catalysts for electrochemical applications.” Further studies in this field will hopefully bring us closer to the dream
of a more sustainable and environment
allyfriendly hydrogen economy .
Mohanraju Karuppannan1, Youngkwang Kim2, Sujin Gok1, Eunjik Lee3, Jee Youn Hwang3, Ji-Hoon Jang3, Yong-Hun Cho4, Taeho Lim*5, Yung-Eun Sung*2,6 and Oh Joong Kwon*1
Title of original paper:
A highly durable carbon-nanofiber-supported Pt–C core–shell cathode catalyst for ultra-low Pt loading proton exchange membrane fuel cells: facile carbon encapsulation
Energy & Environmental Science
1Department of Energy and Chemical Engineering and Innovation Centre for Chemical Engineering, Incheon National University
2School of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Seoul National University
3Strategy & Technology Division, Hyundai motor group
4Department of Chemical Engineering, Kangwon National University
5Department of Chemical Engineering, Soongsil University
6Centre for Nanoparticle Research, Institute for Basic Science (IBS)
About Incheon National University
Incheon National University (INU) is a comprehensive, student-focused university. It was founded in 1979 and given university status in 1988. One of the largest universities in South Korea, it houses nearly 14,000 students and 500 faculty members. In 2010, INU merged with Incheon City College to expand capacity and open more curricula. With its commitment to academic excellence and an unrelenting devotion to innovative research, INU offers its students real-world internship experiences. INU not only focuses on studying and learning but also strives to provide a supportive environment for students to follow their passion, grow, and, as their slogan says, be INspired.
About the author
Professor Oh Joong Kwon received his Ph.D. from School of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Seoul National University, in 2007 and did his postdoctoral fellowship at Research Center for Energy and Conversion Storage, Seoul National University. He was appointed as a full-time lecturer at Department of Mechanical Engineering, Incheon National University in 2008. Later, he transferred to Department of Energy and Chemical Engineering, Incheon National University, and was promoted to full professor in 2019. He has continued to focus on the studies of a fuel cell catalyst and an electrochemical deposition as a director of several research funds supported by the government and companies.
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