Electric vehicles running on fuel cells tout zero emissions and higher efficiency, but expensive platinum is holding them back from entering a larger market. A new method increases fuel cell electrode activity at least tenfold, using 90 percent less metal.
A new method borrows some thinking from "Goldilocks", just the right amount, for evaluating how much metal would be required for fuel cell electrodes. The technique uses the forces on a metal's surface to identify the ideal electrode thickness.
Fuel cells convert hydrogen, combined with some oxygen, into electricity through a so-called oxygen-reduction reaction that an electro-catalyst starts. Finding exactly the right thickness stresses the surface of the electro-catalyst and enhances how well it performs this reaction.