Friday, January 2, 2015

No. 864: Technology development for the age of fuel cell vehicles is in progress (3/5) (January 3, 2015)

Strenuous efforts are being to reduce the price of a fuel cell. Takeo Yamaguchi of Tokyo Institute of Technology reduced the amount of platinum in the catalyst to one third. He blended iron and others with platinum catalyst and changed the distance between platinum atoms, and subsequently increased the efficiency of the catalyst by three times. His catalyst is more durable than the existing catalyst. An experiment has verified that it is durable for 10 years. He plans to commercialize this new catalyst in five years. Naotoshi Nakashima of Kyushu University devised a method to fix small carbon particles on a carbon nanotube. His method prevents particles from clotting even if each particle is small, and thus it does not deteriorate the performance of a fuel cell. It is expected to reduce the amount of platinum used in a fuel cell by one tenth.

 A new electrode for fuel cell developed by Kyushu University

Nobuhiro Yoshikawa of the University of Tokyo has opened up a road to reduce the production cost of a hydrogen tank by 10% in alliance with Nissan Motor. Using a high precision simulation technology, he will eliminate waste of carbon fiber reinforced plastics used to cover the tank. He is exploring the conditions to decrease the number of carbon fiber reinforced plastics while maintain the strength by dividing a tank into 85 million parts. A research team made up of researchers from automakers and home electronics makers changes the figure of carbon particles on the electrode surface to a columnar figure so that oxygen is delivered to the catalyst efficiently. It is working on the structure to eliminate the water generated by the reaction, and thereby increase the generating efficiency of each electrode. It plans to reduce the number of electrodes to reduce the cost of a fuel cell by more than 10%.

Teijin developed an inexpensive catalyst for fuel cell vehicles. The new catalyst employs iron and nitrogen instead of platinum. It presently cannot exhibit performance higher than 70% of the current level, but the company wishes the new catalyst to exhibit the same performance exhibited by a catalyst made purely of platinum, while reducing the price of a catalyst to less than one tenth of the current level. It used iron compounds and polyacrylonitrile (PAN) that contains nitrogen as materials. It created particles with a diameter of several hundred of nanometer by dissolving the iron compounds and PAN in a solvent and treating them with heat in a gas that contains ammonia. It built a fuel cell using these particles as a catalyst and generated about 0.4 V at about 1 ampere.

Nissan's fuel cell vehicle technology

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