Alejandro Freixes
Mar 15, 2012

Researchers create more efficient hydrogen fuel cells

Hydrogen fuel cells, like those found in some 'green' vehicles, have a lot of promise as an alternative fuel source, but making them practical on a large scale requires them to be more efficient and cost effective. A research team from the University of Central Florida may have found a way around both hurdles. The majority of hydrogen fuel cells use catalysts made of a rare and expensive metal -- platinum. There are few alternatives because most elements can’t endure the fuel cell’s highly acidic solvents present in the reaction that converts hydrogen’s chemical energy into electrical power. Only four elements can resist the corrosive process -- platinum, iridium, gold and palladium. The first two are rare and expensive, which makes them impractical for large-scale use. The other two don’t do well with the chemical reaction.