FUEL CELLS DEVELOPMENT WITH NANOTECHNOLOGY
Fuel cells are energy conversion systems that converts chemical energy on fuels directly into electric energy. This is achieved by oxidation-reduction (redox) reaction rather than combustion reaction which is used in the conventional methods for electric energy production. Hydrogen and alcohols such as methanol are the type of fuels that are used in fuel cells. Fuel cells are considered the 21st century technology for the production of electric energy. This is due to its high efficiency, low emission, safety, and silence. However, issues include cost, durability, and conversion efficiency are among the reasons for not using fuel cells in daily applications.
Nanotechnology and nanomaterials introduce solutions for the fuel cells issues that could make them one of the best method for the electric energy production in the near future. The solutions embrace the introduction of new materials and catalysts that increase the conversion efficiency of fuels, increase the durability, and decrease the cost.
One of the most important problems that fuel cells face is the slow electro-oxidation of the fuels used. The solution to this problem is the usage of the catalysts which increase the speed of the reaction without being consumed during the reaction. The kinds of catalysts that are used in the redox reactions in fuel cells are carbon supported noble metallic catalysts. The introduction of the carbon supported metallic nanoparticle catalysts such as Platinum Nanoparticles, Ruthenium Nanoparticles, Palladium Nanoparticles, and others showed excellent results in increasing the activity of the reactions and reducing the cost by decreasing the amount of metals used. Furthermore, the usage of carbon nanomaterials as the catalysts support displayed higher activity, applicability, stability, and efficiency results. These carbon nanomaterials include Carbon Nanotubes, Functional Carbon Nanotubes, and Graphene. The improvement in the results is due to the excellent properties of these nanomaterials such as high surface area, outstanding conductivity, and strength.
Continuous research and development is been done to develop new catalysts that exclude the expensive metals. Others are done to change the design and reduce the size to replace batteries. All these research are base in nanotechnology applications and in the usage of nanomaterials in the fuel cells compartments.