A new stable electrode material that could be used in fuel cells for electric vehicles is described in Nature Communications this week. Current fuel-cell electrode materials can suffer from degradation under operating conditions, hampering the commercial adoption of fuel cells by the automotive industry. The new material is used to produce a new class of highly durable and active electrocatalysts.
Kotaro Sasaki and colleagues have developed a highly-stable nanoparticle electrocatalyst comprising of palladium/gold alloy nanoparticles coated with platinum. Simpler platinum catalysts suffer from dissolution and loss of the nanoparticles during operation, but the new catalyst shows minimal degradation even after the fuel cell is cycled between different voltages 100,000 times. The palladium core of the nanoparticles enhances the stability and activity of the catalysts.
Fuel cells are amongst a number of technologies that could provide an alternative to the use of fossil fuels for automotive use, and the current work could aid the development of commercially viable technologies.