Fuel cells

A fuel cell is a device that generates electric energy through electrochemical reactions between an oxidizing agent and a fuel – a material that stores energy in chemical form. Both species are not stored in the fuel cell but must be supplied from external sources.

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  • News & Views |

    Rationalizing the difference in the catalytic properties within a group of materials is a challenging task. A method is now proposed that addresses this issue by predicting the activity and stability of platinum-based electrocatalysts from operando spectroscopic data.

    • Janis Timoshenko
    Nature Catalysis 5, 469-470
  • News & Views |

    Alkaline membrane fuel cells can operate using nonprecious metals as catalysts, but rely on polymeric membranes with high hydroxide conductivity and alkali-resistance, which are hard to find. A new membrane is now reported comprising ferrocenium cations in magnetically aligned domains with an excellent combination of these properties.

    • Patric Jannasch
    Nature Energy 7, 302-303
  • News & Views |

    Anion-exchange membrane fuel cells offer the prospect of low-cost components thanks to their alkaline environment, yet they are plagued by carbonation of the electrolyte caused by the CO2 present in the feed air. Now, an electrochemical method for CO2 scrubbing using a membrane with mixed ionic–electronic conductivity offers a potential remedy.

    • Lorenz Gubler
    Nature Energy 7, 216-217
  • News & Views |

    Fuel cells with acid-doped membranes must avoid liquid water and humid gas streams to prevent leaching of acid, and so are limited to operating above 120 °C, complicating start-up. Now, microporous membranes offer a chance to confine the acid to their pores, allowing start-up without pre-heating, higher performance and perhaps even extended lifetime.

    • Dirk Henkensmeier
    Nature Energy 7, 128-129