Scientists at Johns Hopkins University have developed new fuel cell materials that are based on nanomaterials. Extremely flexible nanomaterials are able to lower the cost than what it is available on the current market.
The scientists have established a manner in which the reactivity of ultrathin nanosheets is boosted. The study was published in Science.
According to Chao Wang, an assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at Johns Hopkins University, “Every material experiences surface strain due to the breakdown of the material’s crystal symmetry at the atomic level. We discovered a way to make these crystals ultrathin, thereby decreasing the distance between atoms and increasing the material’s reactivity.”
So, by making those structures extremely thin, a million times thinner than human hair, the material is exposed and prone to manipulation. In order words, force is used to improve the properties of thin metal sheets that are part of electrocatalysts, those that are part of the electrodes present in fuel cells.
Chao Wang, also underlines the fact that by manipulating the thinness of materials, they are able to change the properties of the mentioned materials. So, they have more freedom in boosting the reaction on the material`s surface.
In their study, researchers state that this new method can boost the catalyst’s activity by 10 to 20 times, which signifies that precious metals, such as platinum, will be used as little as possible. Ultrathin nanomaterials will make fuel cells cheaper in the near future, leading to less expensive commercial FCEV’s.
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