Poison control for fuel cells
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Clean-running cars powered by hydrogen fuel cells are a step closer to real-world use, after University of Science and Technology (UTS) scientists developed a highly active catalyst to clean harmful impurities from the fuel.
Hydrogen fuel invariably contains some traces of carbon monoxide, which can poison fuel cells. Finding a catalyst that can oxidatively remove carbon monoxide from the fuel, even when the car is first started and the catalyst is cold, has been challenging.
Now, UTS scientists have developed a highly active catalyst consisting of single iron atoms (in the form of iron hydroxide) dispersed across the surface of platinum nanoclusters. This catalyst removed 100% of the carbon monoxide even at temperatures as low as −75 degrees Celsius, suggesting it could be used in a range of fuel-cell applications.
Single metal oxide or hydroxide species on noble-metal surfaces could represent a broad new class of advanced catalysts, the researchers say.
- Nature 565, 631–635 (2019). doi: 10.1038/s41586-018-0869-5