Renewable, renewable, renewable … it’s been a buzzword for a long time. Especially in the automotive industry. Renewable energies are the future of engines in the medium and long term. Hydrogen was an unlikely option for now. The difficulty of adapting it as a fuel complicates its possibilities. Not for long: hydrogen vehicles are approaching reality.
The expensive platinum
This is done thanks to researchers from the University of Copenhagen. They developed a new, cheaper and more sustainable catalyst for hydrogen-powered vehicles. Hydrogen vehicles are very rare today. This is partly due to their reliance on scarce material. About 50 grams of platinum are the catalyst for your fuel cells. Normal vehicles only need about five grams of this element.
The new catalyst solves this problem. “We are approaching the amount of platinum that is required for a conventional vehicle,” says Professor Matthias Arenz. It belongs to the chemistry department of the University of Copenhagen.
It is impossible to simply replace the world’s vehicles with hydrogen models overnight. However, the new technology developed by the Arenz team will change the rules of the game. “This new catalyst can make it possible,” says Professor Jan Rossmeisl from the same university. ‘This improves the fuel cells considerably. It gives us more horsepower per gram of platinum. “
More accessible, less unstable
Current catalysts are based on platinum nanoparticles that coat a carbon base. Unfortunately, carbon makes catalysts unstable.
The new catalyst from the University of Copenhagen is characterized by its carbon-free nature. Instead of nanoparticles, the researchers have developed a network of nanowires. They have a high durability. “With this advancement, the certainty that hydrogen vehicles are coming is more realistic. This makes them cheaper, more sustainable and more durable, ”explains Rossmeisl.
“We want the chemical industry to be more environmentally friendly,” explains Rossmeisl. “We are currently in talks with the automotive industry. We want to implement this progress in practice and on a large scale, ”adds Arentz for his part. “Things look promising,” says the researcher proudly.