Platinum-nickel nanocrystals

Scientists synthesised new type of catalyst for fuel elements

Researchers from Institute of technology of Georgia, the USA, synthesized the catalyst from nanocrystals of Pt-Ni (platinum-nickel). The catalyst possesses record-breaking high activity in relation to reaction of restoration of oxygen (ORR). Let’s note that low catalytic activity concerning ORR is considered one of the main obstacles for successful commercialization of fuel elements on a basis. Fuel elements on the basis of proton changing membranes have high efficiency of transformation of energy that allows to replace with them petrol and diesel engines of an internal combustion engine. Unfortunately, assembly of fuel elements of the power accepted for commercial use, reliability and durability requires considerable amount of expensive metal – platinum. Therefore to make PEMFC suitable for large-scale commercialization, are necessary new more effective catalysts. By calculations of specialists of the Ministry of an energy drink of the USA, activity of the catalyst in relation to reaction of restoration of oxygen has to be increased approximately by 3–4 times that will allow to reduce amount of used platinum at preservation of present efficiency of fuel cells. The catalyst developed by the American scientists, much more surpasses this requirement and shows 17-fold increase in activity in relation to ORR. The catalyst too uses platinum, only in combination with nickel, instead of carbon nanoparticles, as in the best traditional fuel cells. Thus at the heart of the Pt-Ni-catalyst lie nanocrystals of a special octahedral form which provides the maximum area and activity of catalytic reaction. It was succeeded to increase efficiency of the Pt-Ni-catalyst thanks to solvent – benzyl air. Scientists managed to keep a desirable octahedral form of nanocrystals. During the experiments, the new catalyst showed a record ratio of activity of the catalyst to weight: 0,9 volts at 3,3 milligrams that is 17 times higher, than at ordinary catalysts on the basis of platinum with carbon nanoparticles. Scientists managed to make some grams of the new catalyst consisting of 9-nanometer octahedral crystals in laboratory. It is enough of it for testing in a fuel cell, than researchers also plan to be engaged. Developers hope that high activity of octahedral bimetallic Pt-Ni-nanokristalov will remain and in fuel elements and sufficient reliability and durability of the highly active catalyst will be thus provided. If tests end successfully, new fuel cells will be able to compete with habitual petrol and diesel motors.