Scientists have discovered a new method to tackle the spiraling fuel cost. A group of chemists from Hanau, Copenhagen and Potsdam have come with a cost -effective catalyst for fuel cells, thus reducing the cost of these cells.

Traditionally platinum is used as catalyst in fuel cells and current produced by a fuel cell depends on the surface area of the catalyst. Platinum being the costliest metal increasing its surface area for power efficiency will add to production cost. Introduction of cheaper metals for this purpose is the only way out. Scientists have tested various metals in the past, but most of them failed as they started clotting overtime, thus reducing the life of the cell.

Researchers in this new study used a sphere with a thin coat of platinum. According to them, the cells worked efficiently without any glitches. The only problem they faced is in identifying the particular catalyst. That too they successfully overcame.

Matthias Arenz, a specialist in testing catalysts at the University of Copenhagen explains, "In an electron microscope we find a particular particle. Then we run the fuel cell. After running gasses over the catalyst, finding that same particle is a bit like finding a needle in a haystack. But we have our ways."

After a series of tests the scientists confirmed that these new fuel cells can efficiently produce more current and stay longer than their traditional counterparts. They believe that if they can replace gold, which they used now, with any other cheaper metal, fuel cells will become the cheapest energy provider for vehicles. Dr. Matthias Arenz hopes that in future scientists will come up with a better replacement for platinum and gold. “Dan Goia and Umicore have been the first to show, that it is possible to create these thin shells of platinum using simple and cheap chemistry. Now they need to show, that they can do it on spheres of a somewhat cheaper material. If they succeed in this, I'm sure my tests will show that cheap and efficient fuel cells are on their way."

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