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Tufts researchers find new cost-effective catalyst for hydrogen production for fuel cells

ive way to produce clean energy from fuel cells in the near future"

She and her two colleagues, doctoral student Qi Fu and research professor Howard Saltsburg, were funded by a $300,000 three-year grant from the National Science Foundation, and have filed a provisional patent for their research. Their cutting-edge work in catalytic fuel processing to generate hydrogen for fuel cell applications is one of the major undertakings at Tufts' Science and Technology Center at the University's Medford campus.

The Tufts researchers' article is based on the "water-gas shift" reaction they use to make hydrogen from water and carbon monoxide over cerium oxide loaded with gold or platinum. Typically, a loading of 1-10 weight percent of gold or other precious metals is used to make an effective catalyst. But the Tufts team discovered that, after stripping the gold with a cyanide solution, the catalyst was just as active with a slight amount of the gold remaining one-tenth the normal amount used.

According to Flytzani-Stephanopoulos, "This finding is significant because it shows that metallic nanoparticles are mere 'spectator species' for some reactions, such as the water-gas shift. The phenomenon may be more general, since we show that it also holds for platinum and may also hold true for other metals and metal oxide supports, such as titanium and iron oxide."

She adds, "It opens the way for new catalyst designs so more hydrogen can be produced with less precious metal. This can pave the way for cost-effective clean energy production from fuel cells in the near future."

Fuel cells currently are being used on a trial basis in some buses, cars and even hotels, but they're expensive. It may take up to 10 years until the technology is used in transportation and by the general population. (Since the 1960s, one type of fuel cell has powered NASA's spacecrafts.)

"We've raised the issue of now having to look back and see if less precious m
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Contact: Craig LeMoult
craig.lemoult@tufts.edu
617-627-4317
Tufts University
3-Jul-2003


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