Less toxic fuel cells

A new fuel cell concept is set to enhance efficiency while simultaneously removing hazardous heavy metal ions.

The direct methanol fuel cell (DFMC) has long been a promising energy conversion system that could be used to power anything from vehicles to providing portable energy. The development has been carried out by South Korean Center for Nanoparticle Research at the Institute for Basic Science (IBS).

Normally, carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is one of the main factors reducing fuel cell performance along with the presence of hexavalent chromium (Cr (VI)), a toxic carcinogenic heavy metal in the aquatic environment.
The research team applied the Cr (VI) as a type of 'CO scavenger' to the DMFC and the method not only uses the redox process to clean the platinum electrode surface by transforming CO into CO2, but also the Cr (VI) is converted into Cr (III), which is much less toxic. As a result, the fuel cell is able to maintained a near constant voltage for 10 hours without any presence of Cr (VI).


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