Environmental Technologies Potential for a Zero Carbon Emission Micro Fuel Cell

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Resource or Project Abstract

This STRIVE project focused specifically on exploiting the properties of NPG in particular, the large specific surface area combined with a high density of defect sites to develop a DBFC anode catalyst with high catalytic activity for oxidation of BH4 - and low activity for its competing hydrolysis. NPG electrodes were fabricated in a range of film and wire array formats by selectively dealloying silver from silver gold alloys. Borohydride oxidation was studied by cyclic voltammetry at the NPG electrodes. The onset potential for the oxidation at a NPG wire array was found to shift to more negative potentials than that observed at a planar gold disc, and higher currents were realised. An onset potential of -1.07 voltage (V) vs standard calomel electrode (SCE) which is 0.207 V lower than that at a gold disc was recorded. The oxidation current for 20 mM borohydride in 2 M sodium hydroxide increased to 73.6 mA cm-2 from 3.17 mA cm-2 at a gold disc. A value of 7.85 electrons was determined for n out of a possible 8 for borohydride oxidation. These criteria point to a highly favourable and efficient catalyst for borohydride oxidation. In addition, facile and efficient oxidation of two other high-energy density fuels (ammonia borane and dimethylamine borane) at NPG that also do not emit carbon by-products was demonstrated. The results are consistent with an overall hypothesis that the central difference between NPG and bulk Au is caused by the increased density of step edges in NPG relative to bulk Au. This opens exciting new avenues for catalyst design. Nanoporous gold presents an attractive alternative to gold nanoparticle-based catalysts for fuel cells in that it does not require a carbon support, thereby removing the stability issues associated with carbon-supported gold nanoparticle systems. NPG may be incorporated as a thin foil as a porous catalyst electrode as it is shapable and has high mechanical, thermal and chemical stability coupled with high catalytic activity. It has a dual functionality in that it can act as a current collector and as a catalyst, and it may also be integrated into nafionbased membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs) in conventional polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells. An advantage of incorporating NPG over platinum in fuel cells would be the useful enhancement in electrical conductivity that could be derived because of the lower electrical resistivity of gold. Nanoporous gold can provide a solution to the sintering problems that plague nanoparticle-based catalysts, and it also allows for the establishment of more intimate contact with an electrical substrate. The porous structure promotes mass transport of the reactant to the active sites and the release of gaseous by-products. The diffusion of an electroactive species to gold nanoparticles on a high-surface-area carbon support is limited by the low degree of porosity of the support. A prototype miniature DBFC (1 cm2 in size) was constructed using printed circuit board (PCB) plates with manganese dioxide as a cathode and NPG as an anode. The prototype miniature DBFC was tested for in terms of stability and output power with the view to unveiling a competitive, environmentally cleaner energy carrier. The cell was tested using borohydride at concentrations of 20 mM and 75 mM borohydride in 2 M sodium hydroxide. An open circuit potential (OCV) of 0.66 V was recorded. For 20 mM borohydride, a current density of 3.0 mA cm-2 was recorded at a voltage of 0.20 V and the maximum power density recorded was 0.63 mW cm-2 . Identifying innovative energy solutions plays a vital role in responding to environmental-protection challenges and societal needs. Fuel cells can play a key part in delivering on the objectives of Ireland?s ?smart green? economy through the generation of cleaner and more efficient power that places less stress on the environment due to a decrease in emissions related to energy production. The research findings reported here unveil a cleaner energy technology that can compete in national and international markets. The EPA envisages that its research programmes will continue to develop significant research expertise and be recognised as a leading activity supporting the smart green economy. The development and deployment of fuel cells as cleaner energy sources deserves support in EPA's future strategy.

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Contact Information for This Resource

Dr. Lorraine Nagle
Tyndall National Institute
Environmental Research Scientist
Tyndall National Institute, Prospect Row, Lee Maltings, Prospect Row Cork City, Ireland
Telephone: +353 21 4904266
e-mail: lorraine.nagle@tyndall.ie

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Attachment Name and Download Link
Project Report Optimised For Online Viewing    STRIVE_70_Nagle_ZeroCell.web.pdf  (1.8 Mb)
Offline Print Quality Version    STRIVE_70_Nagle_ZeroCell_prn.pdf  (3.86 Mb)

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Author(s)Nagle, L.
Title Of WebsiteSecure Archive For Environmental Research Data
Publication InformationEnvironmental Technologies Potential for a Zero Carbon Emission Micro Fuel Cell
Name of OrganisationEnvironmental Protection Agency Ireland
Electronic Address or URL http://erc.epa.ie/safer/resource?id=a3363faa-302f-102f-a0a4-f81fb11d7d1c
Unique Identifiera3363faa-302f-102f-a0a4-f81fb11d7d1c
Date of AccessLast Updated on SAFER: 2017-08-16

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Nagle, L.   "Environmental Technologies Potential for a Zero Carbon Emission Micro Fuel Cell". Associated datasets and digitial information objects connected to this resource are available at: Secure Archive For Environmental Research Data (SAFER) managed by Environmental Protection Agency Ireland http://erc.epa.ie/safer/resource?id=a3363faa-302f-102f-a0a4-f81fb11d7d1c (Last Accessed: 2017-08-16)

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Access Information For This Resource

SAFER-Data Display URL http://erc.epa.ie/safer/iso19115/display?isoID=231
Resource KeywordsEnvironmental Technologies gold silver emissions fuel cell
EPA/ERTDI/STRIVE Project Code2007-ET-FS-6-M5
EPA/ERTDI/STRIVE Project ThemeEnvironmental Technologies
Resource Availability: Any User Can Download Files From This Resource
Public-Open
Limitations on the use of this ResourceAny attached datasets, data files, or information objects can be downloaded for further use in scientific applications under the condition that the source is properly quoted and cited in published papers, journals, websites, presentations, books, etc. Before downloading, users must agree to the "Conditions of Download and Access" from SAFER-Data. These appear before download. Users of the data should also communicate with the original authors/owners of this resource if they are uncertain about any aspect of the data or information provided before further usage.
Number of Attached Files (Publicly and Openly Available for Download): 2
Project Start Date Monday 1st January 2007 (01-01-2007)
Earliest Recorded Date within any attached datasets or digital objects Monday 1st January 2007 (01-01-2007)
Most Recent Recorded Date within any attached datasets or digital objects Friday 31st December 2010 (31-12-2010)
Published on SAFERWednesday 14th September 2011 (14-09-2011)
Date of Last EditWednesday 14th September 2011 at 15:50:10 (14-09-2011)
Datasets or Files Updated On Wednesday 14th September 2011 at 15:50:10 (14-09-2011)

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Geographical and Spatial Information Related To This Resource

Description of Geographical Characteristics of This Project or Dataset
This was a lab-based research project so there is no geographical description.

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Supplementary Information About This Resource

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Lineage information about this project or dataset
The impetus for this project came from the need to develop low-carbon or decarbonised energy sources. This entailed the design of a prototype direct borohydride fuel cell (DBFC) using a novel nanoporous gold (NPG) anode catalyst to realise the maximum output from a ?zero carbon emission? fuel sodium borohydride. The advantages of a borohydride fuel cell include the high-energy density of borohydride coupled to the emission of carbon-free by-products. Borohydride is non-toxic, easy to store and transport and its by-products can be regenerated into borohydride. This study unveils nanoporous gold as a remarkably efficient anode catalyst for a DBFC.
Supplementary Information
NONE (see related link to State of Knowledge Report)
Links To Other Related Resources
  http://erc.epa.ie/safer/iso19115/displayISO19115.jsp?isoID=144 (Opens in a new window)

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