Strasser and his team, which includes Ratndeep Srivastava, a graduate student, Prasanna Mani, a postdoctoral researcher, and Nathan Hahn, a 2007 UH graduate, have met and, seemingly, exceeded this magic number. The team created a catalyst that uses less platinum, making it at least four times and up to six times more efficient and cheaper than existing catalysts at comparable power levels.
We have found a low platinum alloy that we pre-treat in a special way to make it very active for the reaction of oxygen to water on the surface of our catalyst, Strasser said. A more active catalyst means that we get more electricity, or energy, for the amount of platinum used and the time its used for. With a material four to six times more efficient, the cost of the catalyst has reached an important target set by industrial fuel cell developers and the U.S. Department of Energy.
Although more testing of how the durability of this new catalyst compares to pure platinum is necessary, the preliminary results look promising.
The initial results show that durability is improved over pure platinum, but only longer-term testing can tell, Strasser said.
Long-term results may take some time, but industry expert Hubert Gasteiger, a leading scientist in fuel research with Aeta S.p.A. in Italy, is already excited.
The automotive cost targets, which were developed several years ago, require that the activity of the available platinum catalysts would need to be increased by a factor of four to six, Gasteiger said. The novel catalyst concept developed by Professor Strassers group has been demonstrated to provide an enhancement factor of greater than four, and, thereby, are very promising materials to achieve the platinum metals cost targets of typical hydrogen-oxygen automotive fuel cells. This is a very exciting and new development, even though more work is require
|Contact: Ann Holdsworth|
University of Houston