Catalysis

Catalysis will play a very important role in successful commercialization of fuel cells. The two important areas are processing of hydrocarbon fuels to produce hydrogen and reactions of hydrogen and oxygen at the anode and cathode to generate power. Both of these steps require efficient catalysts. The team’s efforts center on developing novel catalysts for both fuel processing and electrocatalysis applications. Investigations are being carried out on catalyst development, characterization and testing for partial-oxidation reforming of hydrocarbon fuels (methanol and gasoline), with the primary objective of minimizing the amount of carbon monoxide (CO) produced during the reaction. The ultimate goal is to produce a CO-free hydrogen stream, since traces of carbon monoxide in this mixture poison the fuel cell’s platinum catalyst and degrade fuel cell performance. Another active research area is the development of novel electrode materials that require significantly less platinum than today’s commercial electrodes

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