Cheaper Fuel Cells
The idea of fuel cells has been around for more than a century. So why haven’t they taken off?
The main reason is cost. But chemists at UC Berkeley have come up with a possible solution, and it all has to do with the shape of catalysts. Inside of fuel cells, those catalysts are used to induce chemical reactions, but almost all of the reactions occur at the edges of the catalysts, as well as around defects.
Rather than limit the reactions to those locations, the chemists have changed the basic structure of the catalyst so that it’s all edges—basically a spiky structure with lots of extra edges on it. That, in turn, makes the fuel cells much more efficient and it reduces the amount of expensive material such as platinum that goes unused.
Not Quite Graphene
The University of Helsinki in Finland is looking at new carbon structures—one of which is a cross between nanotubes and graphite, which they’re calling quasi-graphene.
Graphene, as you recall, is a one-atom-thick sheet of carbon. So far, this quasi-graphene only exists in supercomputer forecasts. The goal is to use it to store hydrogen.