Fuel cell poisoning halted by CO oxidising catalyst
A gold catalyst that can be used in power-generating fuel cells has been prepared by a transatlantic group of chemists.
Graham Hutchings' team, with researchers from Cardiff University, catalyst company Johnson Matthey, and Lehigh University, US, heated a gold catalyst mounted on iron oxide to 400°C then 550°C. This gave them a catalyst that could oxidise carbon monoxide (CO) in an atmosphere of hydrogen, water and carbon dioxide.
Platinum electrodes are poisoned by CO, rendering fuel cells less efficient. Until now it has been difficult to remove the unwanted CO under the conditions found in fuel cells, although gold catalysts can do this at lower temperatures.
Hutchings is working on improving the formulation and hopes that this latest discovery will allow hydrogen fuel cells to reach their potential, saying his group expects to play a role in opening up the use of gold catalysts in new reactions. Neil Withers
P Landon et al., Chem. Commun., 2005 (DOI: 10.1039/b505295p)