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USTC Scientist Make Major Breakthrough

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Scientists at the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) in Hefei have made a major breakthrough in the design of vehicle-applied hydrogen fuel cells that can function under extreme temperatures. They published their research in a report entitled “Atomically dispersed iron hydroxide anchored on Pt for preferential oxidation of CO in H2” in Nature, the world’s top scientific journal, on Jan 31.

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles have high energy conversion efficiency and zero emissions. However, their wide application is still restricted by multiple technical problems, most notably the carbon-monoxide (CO) “poisoning” of the fuel cell electrodes. Hydrogen that is produced through the current method is usually mixed with a small amount of CO (0.5 to 2 percent), which easily “poisons” electrodes and hence compromises the performance and life span of the fuel cells.

The primary method of removing trace amounts of CO from the vehicle-applied hydrogen relies on certain catalysts that can only work within a narrow range of temperatures (above room temperature). This limitation means that the hydrogen fuel cell vehicles cannot function reliably in the winter due to the colder temperatures.

A USTC research team, led by Professor Lu Junling, has designed a new catalytic material that efficiently purifies hydrogen fuel over a broad range of temperatures (roughly -75 to 107 degrees Celsius) and ensures the continuous operation of fuel cells.

“These findings could greatly accelerate the arrival of the era of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles,” said Lu. #ResearchStrength

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