Kyushu University Team Develops Platinum-Free Fuel Cell

Posted by Stephen On Thursday, September 15th, 2011

A team from Kyushu University in Fukuoka, southern Japan, published details of an experimental fuel cell that does not use platinum. In traditional fuel cell arrangements, platinum functions as a catalyst, but with platinum prices at around 5,000 Yen per gram (currently approximately $65), the new catalytic compound that relies on ruthenium (450 Yen per gram) and nickel (2 Yen per gram) is a significantly cheaper option. Professor Ogo also announced his intention to work with Daihatsu on the development of a fuel cell vehicle based on this technology.

Although a ruthenium – nickel catalyst-based fuel cell is a world first, a major hurdle that needs to be overcome in the potential commercializing of this method is the fact that it only has 4% of the power-generation efficiency of the equivalent platinum catalyst-based fuel cell. Team leader, Professor Seiji Ogo, comments, “We will continue to work on reducing the electrical resistance, and focus on developing batteries with equivalent power generation levels.”

Despite the low efficiency of the prototype process, the involvement of Toyota subsidiary Daihatsu suggests that this research is seen as having credible commercialization potential. Perhaps we will see platinum-free fuel cells powering the kei cars of the future?

Sources: MSN (Japanese)

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