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Novel nanowires boost fuel cell efficiency
Date:3/31/2011

MG nanowires that Schroers and Taylor developed are about three times smaller than carbon black particles. The nanowires' long, thin shape gives them much more active surface area per mass compared to carbon black. In addition, rather than sticking platinum particles onto a support material, the Yale team incorporated the platinum into the nanowire alloy itself, ensuring that it continues to react with the fuel over time.

It's the nanowires' unique chemical composition that makes it possible to shape them into such small rods using a hot-press method, said Schroers, who has developed other BMG alloys that can also be blow molded into complicated shapes. The BMG nanowires also conduct electricity better than carbon black and carbon nanotubes, and are less expensive to process.

So far Taylor has tested their catalyst system for alcohol-based fuel cells (including those that use ethanol and methanol as fuel sources), but they say the system could be used in other types of fuel cells and could one day be used in portable electronic devices such as laptop computers and cell phones as well as in remote sensors.

"This is the introduction of a new class of materials that can be used as electrocatalysts," Taylor said. "It's a real step toward making fuel cells commercially viable and, ultimately, supplementing or replacing batteries in electronic devices."


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Contact: Suzanne Taylor Muzzin
suzanne.taylormuzzin@yale.edu
203-432-8555
Yale University
Source:Eurekalert  

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