Brown University Researchers Design Nanoparticle Palladium Catalysts For Fuel Cells

March 23 2009 / by Garry Golden
Category: Energy   Year: General   Rating: 4 Hot

Palladium Brown UniversityMetals, like platinum, palladium and nickel, play a key role as catatysts that change the quality of reactions of gases like carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.

Designing catalysts at the nanoscale (billionth of a meter) will help to improve interactions within fuel cells that convert chemical energy into electricity.  But achieving precise control over nano-sized particles has been difficult.

Now Brown University researchers have designed fuel cell catalysts using palladium  nanoparticles that have about 40 percent greater active surface area, and ‘remain intact four times longer’.

The innovations? 
A New Binding Agent & Surface Area

The researchers have learned how to bind the 4.5 nanometer sized metal pieces to a carbon support platform using weak binding amino ligands that keep the nanoparticles separate.  After they are set, the ligand links are ‘washed away’ without negatively changing the catalysts.

“This approach is very novel. It works,” said Vismadeb Mazumder, a graduate researcher who joined chemistry professor Shouheng Sun “It’s two times as active, meaning you need half the energy to catalyze. And it’s four times as stable.  It just works better.”

Brown University Press Release

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