Oxford Research: Pocket Fuel Cells to replace batteries

10 Sep 2011, dilip Comments: | Views: 2267 | | Category: Energy, Science

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Ag (Silver) nanoparticles coated with a thin layer of Pd(Palladium) atoms can significantly enhance the production of H2 from formic acid  

Today the world is going mobile -Even Laptops are old fashioned now . The era of ipads, smart mobiles is already here. Every one wants the world in their hands  . But their is one hiccup with this gizmos, the battery. The prime power driver for these mobile devices is the major hurdle in being completely mobile - you have to wire often to get it charged.   Battery is one place where to say frankly innovation is slower. Lithium ion is the present power source for the Laptops and gadgets.

Now Oxford University is developing a new technology using catalysts which make hydrogen from formic acid and could eventually replace lithium batteries and power a host of mobile devices.

Hydrogen is the source of a Fuel Cell which generates electicty by electro-chemical reaction with oxygen.

Edman Tsang of Oxford University’s Department of Chemistry and colleagues are developing new catalysts which can produce hydrogen at room temperature without the need for solvents or additives.

Their initial results, reported in a recent paper in Nature Nanotechnology, are promising and suggest that a hydrogen fuel cell in your pocket might not be that far away.

The new approach involves placing a single atomic layer of palladium atoms onto silver nanoparticles. ‘The structural and electronic effects from the underlying silver greatly enhance the catalytic properties of palladium, giving impressive activity for the conversion of formic acid to hydrogen and carbon dioxide at room temperature,’ Mr.Edman told.

He explains that the storage and handling of organic liquids, such as formic acid, is much easier and safer than storing hydrogen. The catalysts would enable the production of hydrogen from liquid fuel stored in a disposable or recycled cartridge, creating miniature fuel cells to power everything from mobile phones to laptops.

Another advantage of the new technology is that the gas stream generated from the reaction is mainly composed of hydrogen and carbon dioxide but virtually free from catalyst-poisoning carbon monoxide; removing the need for clean-up processes and extending the life of the fuel cells. 

‘There are lots of hurdles before you can get a real device, but we are looking at the possibility of using this new technology to replace lithium battery technology with an alternative which has a longer lifespan and has less impact on the environment,’ concludes Mr.Edman.

Src: Oxford Blog

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