How to make fuel cells cheaper and greener?


How to make fuel cells cheaper and greener?

Researchers from ISC RAS have synthesized a compound that speeds up the chemical reaction underlying electric power production in environemntally safe fueld cells. The developed catalyst contains iron and manganese, which are available and nontoxic making the substance a great alternative to widely used platinum catalysts.

The scientists have developed bimetallic porphyrin catalysts in the form of films. They synthesized porphyrins - complex nitrogen-containing molecules consisting of four carbon rings bound to each other. Then they introduced a metal atom (iron or manganese) into the structure of the substance, which was firmly fixed in the center of the nitrogen-carbon ring. The researchers applied the electrochemical method to produce thin film catalysts containing separately iron or manganese atoms, as well as a bimetallic iron-manganese catalyst.

Then they tested the ability of the films to catalyze the oxygen reduction reaction. They placed the catalyst into an electrochemical cell filled with alkali and purged oxygen through the cell. Judging by the voltage on the cell electrodes - current-conducting elements - they assessed the efficiency of the chemical transformation. The intensity of the current generated by the catalyst containing two metals at a lower voltage was 1.5 times higher than that generated by the manganese or iron catalyst.

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