New Fuel Cell Design Removes Platinum, Adds Gore-Tex

New Fuel Cell Design Removes Platinum, Adds Gore-Tex

A material most know for making waterproof and breathable outdoor gear is being used to change how fuel cells run.

Scientists at Monash University have developed a way to replace platinum in fuel cells by integrating Gore-Tex material in the fuel cell design.

The Monash team developed an air electrode (the part of the fuel cell that oxygen is fed to) made up of a fine layer of conductive plastic attached to Gore-Tex fabric.

The Gore-Tex material lets oxygen pass into the fuel cell and in contact with the conductive plastic, which acts as an electrode and catalyst. The fuel cell has been tested for periods of up to 1,500 hours, using oxygen and hydrogen to provide power,

"The benefits for the motoring industry and for motorists are that the new design removes the need for platinum, which acts as the catalyst and is currently central to the manufacturing process," said Monash University's Professor Doug MacFarlane.

According to MacFarlane, the cost of the amount of platinum in a fuel cell for a 100 kilowatt electric engine is more than the entire cost of a 100 kilowatt gasoline engine. There is also only enough platinum being produced each year for 3,000,000 100 kilowatt vehicles, less than 8 percent of all vehicles made yearly.

"The important point to stress is that the team has come up with an alternative fuel cell design that is more economical, more easily sourced, outlasts platinum cells and is just as effective," MacFarlane said.