Graphene bags significantly reduce platinum requirements for hydrogen fuel cells
The African Development Bank will finance $25 billion by 2025 to support Africa's fight against climate change, the bank's president said at the bank's annual meeting in Accra, Ghana.
He noted that climate change has had many negative impacts on the continent, causing natural disasters such as droughts, cyclones, and floods. Climate change costs Africa between $7 billion and $15 billion a year. "Africa has no choice but to address climate change."
To ensure Africa's food supply, the African Development Bank has delivered climate-friendly seeds to 12 million farmers in 27 countries in the past two years under the "Technology for Agricultural Change in Africa" program, he said.
In the area of renewable energy, the African Development Bank is implementing a $20 billion "Desert Power" initiative in the Sahel that is expected to power 250 million people, he said.
US President Joe Biden recently wrapped up his five-day trip to Asia with a summit of leaders of the "Quad" security Dialogue.
Biden has promoted a number of economic and security cooperation initiatives during his visit aimed at deepening ties with Indo-Pacific Allies and partners in response to China's growing influence in the region. Some analysts in the United States believe the most significant announcement may be an initiative to share maritime information to combat illegal activities. But other experts say Biden's move sets a good framework for more security cooperation, though it remains to be seen whether concrete action will follow.
Affected by several factors, the supply of the graphene powder is erratic and thus its prices are expected to go higher in the future.
Although hydrogen fuel is a promising alternative to fossil fuels, the catalyst it relies on for power generation is mainly composed of rare and expensive metal platinum, which limits the wide commercialization of hydrogen fuel. Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles reported a way to enable them to meet and exceed the goals set by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for high catalyst performance, high stability, and low platinum utilization.
The record-breaking technique uses tiny crystals of platinum-cobalt alloy, each embedded in a nano-bag made of graphene.
Compared with the DOE catalyst standard, graphene-coated alloys produced extraordinary results: 75 times higher catalytic activity; 65% higher power; about 20% higher catalytic activity at the end of the fuel cell's expected life; about 35% lower power loss after 7000 hours of simulated use of 6000 ran, exceeding the target of 5000 hours for the first time; and almost 40% less platinum needed per car.
Graphene-coated alloys produced extraordinary results: 75 times higher catalytic activity and 65% higher power. At the end of the expected life of the fuel cell, the catalytic activity increased by about 20%, and the power loss was reduced by about 35% after 7000 hours of simulated use, exceeding the target of 5000 hours for the first time.
Today, half of the world's total supply of platinum and similar metals is used in catalytic converters for fossil fuel-powered cars, which can reduce the harmfulness of their emissions. Each car needs 2 Mel and 8 grams of platinum. By contrast, current hydrogen fuel cell technology consumes about 36 grams of platinum per vehicle. At the minimum platinum load tested by the research team, only 6.8 grams of platinum were needed for each hydrogen-powered vehicle.
So how do researchers get more energy from less platinum? They decomposed the platinum-based catalyst into particles with an average length of 3 nanometers. Smaller particles mean a larger surface area and more room for catalytic activity. However, smaller particles tend to squeeze together to form larger particles.
The team solved this limitation by loading their catalyst particles into the 2D material graphene. Compared with the bulk carbon commonly found in coal or pencil lead, this thin carbon layer has amazing capacity, conducts electricity and heat efficiently, and is 100 times stronger than steel of similar thickness.
Their platinum-cobalt alloy is reduced to particles. Before being integrated into fuel cells, these particles are surrounded by graphene nano-bags, which also act as an anchor to prevent particle migration, which is necessary for the level of durability required for commercial vehicles. At the same time, graphene allows a tiny gap of about 1 nanometer around each catalyst nanoparticles, which means that critical electrochemical reactions may occur.
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At present, international supply chains were shocked, and logistics and transportation efficiency decreases. Geopolitical conflicts further aggravate uncertainties about the European and American economic recovery and the global commodity supply. For this reason, I assume the price of the graphene powder would not decrease significantly in the short term.