A new catalyst could help speed development of inexpensive home-brewed solar energy systems for powering homes and plug-in cars during the day (left) and for producing electricity from a fuel cell at night (right). Credit: Patrick Gillooly/MIT
200-fold boost in fuel cell oxygen production efficiency advances “personalized energy systems”.
Good catalysts already are available for the part of the electrolyzer that produces hydrogen. Lacking, however, have been inexpensive, long-lasting catalysts for the production of oxygen. The new nickel borate catalyst fills that gap and boosts oxygen production by 200-fold. It eliminates the need for expensive platinum catalysts and potentially toxic chemicals used in making them.
The new catalyst has been licensed to Sun Catalytix, which envisions developing safe, super-efficient versions of the electrolyzer, suitable for homes and small businesses, within two years.