Fuel Cell Dynamics

Figuring out the density and locational dynamics of iron atoms unlocks a level of efficiency in the fuel cell oxidation reaction never before realized. Credit: University of Texas at Austin / Cockrell School of Engineering

The demand for clean energy has never been higher, and it has created a global race to develop new technologies as alternatives to fossil fuels. Among the most tantalizing of these green energy technologies is fuel cells. They use hydrogen as fuel to cleanly produce electricity and could power everything from long-haul trucks to major industrial processes.

However, fuel cells are held back by sluggish kinetics in a part of the core chemical reaction that limits efficiency. But, researchers from The University of Texas at Austin have discovered new dynamics that could supercharge this reaction using iron-based single-DOI: 10.1038/s41929-021-00650-w

In addition to Yu, authors include Zhaoyu Jin from UT’s Texas Materials Institute and the Department of Chemistry; Panpan Li and Zhiwei Fang from the Texas Materials Institute, and Dan Xiao and Yan Meng from the Department of Chemical Engineering, Sichuan University in China. The team has spent more than two years working on this project, and it was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences; the Welch Foundation; and the Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award.

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