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Nanomaterials for fuel cells

Fuel cells have enormous promise as a renewable source of power to supply the world’s energy needs. Several missing pieces exist with state of the art technology that prevents immediate implementation due to cost constraints. Platinum was widely considered to be the best catalyst for all types of fuel cells in terms of electrical efficiency. It is important to have catalysts to speed up the electrochemical process. Currently, only platinum and ruthenium are used in the fuel cells as catalysts. However, platinum is about 1,400% more expensive per gram than nano materials which can replace platinum as the main catalyst in hydrogen fuel cells and other electrode assemblies. Scientists have been working on finding non-noble substitutes that are more cost-efficient for fuel cell technology.
Nanomaterials are considered for catalysts for fuel cells consisting of carbon-supported metal particles. The nanomaterial structure increases the surface-to-volume ratio of expensive noble metals and plays a vital role in reducing the overall cost of the fuel cell. Metallic nanomaterials including nano nickel (n-Ni), nano silver, nano copper, nano Ni/Co and other materials will replace platinum as the main catalyst in hydrogen fuel cells and other electrode assemblies. It has been reported that the use of rare earth metal oxides such as ceria samaria nanomaterials has utility as components in electrodes and as low-temperature electrolytes in solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC). In the development and manufacture hydrogen fuel cell electrodes novel carbon nanotubes are used to improve the performance and lifetime of the electrodes, thereby reducing overall costs for fuel cell operations with minimal catalyst loading.

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