In science, the fuel cell technology is utilizing a surface electro-chemical reaction to oxidize hydrogen molecules to release electrons on the anode, to reduce oxygen molecules by receiving electrons on the cathode. Through the decades of scientific research and development, the most active and durable catalyst is the precious metal platinum (Pt) for both electrodes. However, platinum is the most rare precious metal on our planet as a fact. Through the intense development of nanotechnology to reduce the loading of platinum in fuel cell applications, an optimized size and structure has been obtained at 2 to 4 nm range for spherical like shape. Since then, PEMFC technology has been fast developed for most feasible commercial applications, like power generators for vehicle application and stationary power suppliers. However, due to the only surface layer of platinum spherical like nanoparticles (NPs) was utilized, a bulk of platinum cannot be accessed. Various advanced structures, including core-shell structure, frame structures, and cage structure were synthesized and tested. Among these state-or-art nano-structures, only core-shell structure platinum containing structure has been used in the commercial application due to its enhanced electro-chemical activity and good durability. However, it reduced only about 30 - 40 % of platinum in its core. Other advanced structures suffer various difficulties in real fuel cell application, including homogeneous deposition on the support, the coating, the durability of their MEAs, and the aggregation of nanoparticles. There are other key disadvantages of spherical like nanocatalyst for H2-PEMFC: 1. the anchoring of the Pt-NPs on the surface not ideal. It is hard for metallic Pt NPs to be fixed on the carbon support as there is no direct chemical bonding can form. Oxidation of carbon surface to introduce dangling bonds of carboxyl, or others only improve the anchoring partially on the surface. 2. the dead corner areas between the spherical Pt NPs and the support. As the surface of Pt is critical for the needed electro-catalytic reaction, accessing all the surface area is needed for the highest performance. However, accessing these corner areas need more pressure with balanced reaction rate. As if too many hydrogen molecules access these area, the dissolution of Pt can increase the moving of the Pt NPs, which will accelerate the performance degradation. 3. the relocation of ionomers during the operation. It has been a fact that ionomer relocated in the catalyst layer during operation. Such migration of ionomer can increase the aggregation of the spherical like Pt NPs, which will lead fast catalytic activity decrease. In addition, the lack of ionomer around Pt NPs will reduce the protons to access Pt surfaces, which will worse the catalytic activity.
all these are intrinsic difficulties of spherical like Pt nanocatalysts for hydrogen PEMFC application. A fine tuning and control and management of the cell is highly needed to make high performance PEMFC stack.
Good news is that these intrinsic difficuulties are abolished by a new nanostructure developed by Blue-O Tech.
Since 2012, Blue-O Tech has developed a novel class of plate-shaped structure of Pt containing nanocatalysts. Undoubtedly, a plate-shaped structure of supported Pt catalysts is ideal for H2 PEMFC application and other fuel cell technologies like DAFCs.
The tremendous advantages of Plate-shaped nanostructure enable much desired ultra-low loading of Pt electrocatalysts for Hydrogen PEMFC to create clean energy powered vehicles or power generators.
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