Hydrogen fuel cells have become an important part of the global energy scenario in recent years following growing acknowledgment of their utility in providing pollution-free energy. Hydrogen fuel cells mostly emit only water, making them highly advantageous compared to conventional fossil fuels in terms of their environmental impact. The relatively abundant availability of hydrogen has also contributed to the growing importance of fuel cells. However, CO poisoning has been a common problem for hydrogen fuel cells due to the unavailability of pure hydrogen.

A new paper in the journal Science, authored by Christopher J. Kiely, senior professor of materials science and engineering at LeHigh University, along with an international team, describes a catalyst that can be used to convert water and carbon monoxide into pure hydrogen gas and carbon dioxide. The paper represents Kiely’s ninth entry in the prestigious journal and was co-authored by his students such as Li Lu, a final year Ph. D. candidate, and Wu Zhou, who now works at the University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing having studied under Kiely.

Low Temperature, Pressure Requirements Make Discovery Important

One of the key aspects of the discovery is that the catalyst works at room temperature and normal pressures, which leads to lower overall energy consumption in the formation of hydrogen gas than in conventional hydrogen fuel cells. This makes the new process less expensive and cumbersome, which means it can be used in a more diverse range of applications. Automotive application of hydrogen fuel cells is likely be tremendously important for the hydrogen fuel cell sector in the coming years, and the development of innovations that make hydrogen fuel cells more efficient and controllable is likely to be welcomed in the automotive sector.

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