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Pt-free catalysts promise to lower fuel-cell costs

By Chemical Engineering |

Showa Denko K.K. (Tokyo; www.sdk.co.jp/html/english) has developed a platinum-substitute catalyst system for polymer electrolyte fuel cells (PEFCs) under the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization’s (NEDO; Kawasaki, Japan) project led by professor Kenichiro Ota of Yokohama National University. The new catalysts — based on niobium oxide and titanium oxide, each containing nitrogen and carbon atoms — are used in both the cathode and anode of a PEFC and are said to achieve the world’s highest level of efficiency, in terms of open-circuit voltage and durability, among non-Pt catalysts announced so far. Enhanced durability has also been observed, with operation extending to more than 10,000 h, says the firm. Production costs for the new catalysts are about ¥500/kW ($5/kW), or less, which is about 1/20th that of today’s Pt-based catalysts. The company is working to improve the catalyst performance using fine-particle manufacturing technologies and high-conductivity carbon, and anticipates commercial production by 2015.   Click here for a full pdf version of the Chementator Section
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