APPLICATIONS OF TECHNOLOGY:
High energy density technologies including
- Fuel cells
- Metal-air batteries
- Biomedical materials
- High efficiencies compared to current catalysts
- Over 36-fold enhancement in mass activity
- Over 21-fold enhancement in specific activity for oxygen reduction reaction
- Unique alloy and architecture reduce precious metal content while yielding high surface-to-volume ratio
- Can be tailored for specific physical and chemical properties
- Enhanced durability: structure, composition, and functional properties unchanged following 10,000 potential cycles simulating fuel cell operation
Peidong Yang, Vojislav Stamenkovic, and their research team at Berkeley Lab and Argonne National Laboratory have developed a technology to yield highly crystalline platinum-nickel nanoframes, a new class of highly active and durable electrocatalysts that can be used for technologies that convert and store energy such as fuel cells, metal-air batteries, electronics, and biomedical materials.
The technology requires less precious metal than previous technologies by alloying platinum with non-noble metals such as nickel within a unique nanoframe architecture. The crystalline nanoframe’s open framework provides a high surface-to-volume ratio and efficient reactant mass-transport to both the interior and exterior catalytic surfaces of the nanoframe, maximizing its precious metal utilization. The framework also lends itself to higher efficiencies than previous technologies. In contrast to current state-of-the-art systems, the platinum-nickel nanoframe catalysts achieve over 36-fold enhancement in mass activity, and over 21-fold enhancement in specific activity for oxygen reduction reaction.
The nanoframe catalysts are extremely durable systems. After prolonged exposure to harsh reaction conditions equivalent to 10,000 potential cycles simulating fuel-cell operation, the structure, composition, and functional properties of the nanoframes remain unchanged. In addition, the invention can use any combination of precious metal and non-noble-metal electrocatalysts to produce specific physical and chemical properties, and is therefore tunable for specific applications in heterogeneous catalysis.
The most efficient catalysts for harvesting fuels and/or electrons from electrochemical interfaces are based on platinum and other precious metals. However, the high cost of these materials combined with their low efficiency and low durability are key obstacles to their broad deployment in high-energy-density technologies, such as fuel cells and metal-air batteries. This new technology from Berkeley Lab and Argonne National Laboratory overcomes these limitations.
DEVELOPMENT STAGE: The researchers proved the principle by simulating fuel cell reactive conditions in the lab environment, noting the feedback from the nanoframes was outstanding. The next step will be to make a sufficient amount of catalyst and an electrode assembly to demonstrate the feasibility of using nanoframes in the fuel cell devices. In addition, the researchers will work to scale up the quantities of nanoframes synthesized from a single batch.
STATUS: Patent pending. Available for licensing or collaborative research.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Chen, C., Kang, Y., Huo, Z., Zhu, Z., Huang, W., Xin, H. L., Snyder, J. D., Li, D., Herron, J. A., Mavrikakis, M., Chi, M., More, K. L., Li, Y., Markovic, N. M., Somorjai, G. A., Yang, P., Stamenkovic, V. R. “Highly Crystalling Multimetallic Nanoframes with three-dimensional Electrocatalytic Surfaces,” Science, 2014 Mar. 21; 342 (6177) 1339-43.
Spence, K. “Is This New Fuel Cell Catalyst a Game Changer for Hydrogen Vehicles?,” The Motley Fool, May 11, 2014.
SEE THESE OTHER BERKELEY LAB TECHNOLOGIES IN THIS FIELD:
Nanocrystal Assembly for Tandem Catalysis, IB-3041
REFERENCE NUMBER: 2014-022