Mystery surrounding non-platinum catalysts for fuel cell technologies solvedJanuary 21, 2016
Tsukuba, Japan - A persistent controversy in catalysts for fuel cells has just been solved by a team of researchers from the Faculty of Pure and Applied Sciences at the University of Tsukuba.
The oxygen reduction reaction is a key step in the operation of fuel cells, but depends on expensive precious metal-based catalysts. Carbon-based catalysts with added nitrogen are among the most promising alternatives to precious metals, and could allow more widespread use of fuel cell technology. However, until now, the arrangement of nitrogen and carbon that gave the catalytic effect remained a mystery, stalling efforts to develop more effective materials.
In an article published this week in Science, a team of researchers from the University of Tsukuba identified the catalytic structure and proposed a mechanism by which the reaction works. "We knew that nitrogen-doped carbon was a good oxygen reduction catalyst, but no one was sure whether the nitrogen was pyridinic or graphitic," said corresponding author Prof. Junji Nakamura.
To solve the mystery, the team fabricated four model catalyst substrates, which simulated competing potential structures and analyzed their reaction performance. Pyridinic nitrogen, or nitrogen atoms bonded to two carbon atoms, occur mainly at the edges of the material. By patterning the substrates to change the number of edges, the team could control the presence of pyridinic nitrogen and measure how it affected the catalytic performance. These results showed that the active catalytic sites were associated with pyridinic nitrogen.
Taking the research a step further, the investigators then proposed the various stages of the reaction mechanism after finding that it was actually the carbon atom next to the nitrogen that was the active site rather than the nitrogen atom itself. As the corresponding author Prof. Nakamura noted: "Clarifying the active site and mechanism is a great step forward and will allow optimization studies to focus on driving up catalyst performance."
University of Tsukuba
Related Nitrogen Articles:
A unique investigation highlights how excess nitrogen can trigger coral bleaching in the absence of heat stress.
Researchers have developed a large-scale method for calculating the nitrogen footprint of a university in the pursuit of reducing nitrogen pollution, which is linked to a cascade of negative impacts on the environment and human health, such as biodiversity loss, climate change, and smog.
As the most abundant gas in Earth's atmosphere, nitrogen has been an attractive option as a source of renewable energy.
Nitrogen deposition caused by human activities can lead to an increased phytoplankton production in boreal lakes.
An international team discovers that production of a potent greenhouse gas can be bypassed as soil nitrogen breaks down into unreactive atmospheric N2.
Cornell University researchers have discovered a biological mechanism that helps convert nitrogen-based fertilizer into nitrous oxide, an ozone-depleting greenhouse gas.
Nitrogen is everywhere: even in the air there is four times as much of it as oxygen.
Washington State University biologist Mechthild Tegeder has developed a way to dramatically increase the yield and quality of soybeans.
Excess nitrogen from agricultural runoff can enter surface waters with devastating effects.
What's good for crops is not always good for the environment.
Related Nitrogen Reading:
Nitrogen (True Books)
by Salvatore Tocci (Author)
Discusses the origin, discovery, special characteristics, and use of nitrogen in such products as explosives and fertilizers. View Details
Fish Physiology: Nitrogen Excretion, Volume 20
by Paul Anderson (Editor), Patricia Wright (Editor), William S. Hoar (Editor), David J. Randall (Editor), Anthony P. Farrell (Editor)
This book provides a comprehensive collection of timely reviews of our current understanding of the fundamental principles of nitrogen metabolism and excretion in fish. Emphasis is placed on critical assessment of how new studies impact these topics, and the articles reflect the diversity of current research approaches. View Details
by W. V. Bartholomew (Editor), Francis E. Clark (Editor)
Nitrogen Management in Crop Production
by Nand Kumar Fageria (Author)
One of the main approaches for safeguarding food security, sustainable development has increased demand for knowledge on fertilizer management in crop production. Among essential plant nutrients, nitrogen is one of the most important yield-limiting nutrients, mainly responsible for determining yield and yield components in cereals and legumes. It is also responsible for the activation of many enzymes and, of course, plays an important role in photosynthesis. With a recovery efficiency of less than 50 percent in most cropping systems, a large portion of the nitrogen applied as fertilizer is... View Details
Biological Nitrogen Fixation: Towards Poverty Alleviation through Sustainable Agriculture: Proceedings of the 15th International Nitrogen Fixation ... Science and Biotechnology in Agriculture)
by Felix D. Dakora (Editor), Samson B. M. Chimphango (Editor), Alex J. Valentine (Editor), Claudine Elmerich (Editor), William E. Newton (Editor)
Poverty is a severe problem in Africa, Asia, South America and even in pockets of the developed world. Addressing poverty alleviation via the expanded use of biological nitrogen fixation in agriculture was the theme of the 15th International Congress on Nitrogen Fixation. Because nitrogen-fixation research is multidisciplinary, exploiting its benefits for agriculture and environmental protection has continued to attract research by diverse groups of scientists, including chemists, biochemists, plant physiologists, evolutionary biologists, ecologists, agricultural scientists, extension agents,... View Details
Nitrogen Fixation (Topics in Organometallic Chemistry)
by Yoshiaki Nishibayashi (Editor)
This volume presents a review of recent developments in nitrogen fixation using transition metal–dinitrogen complexes in the last decade. The authors are international experts in the corresponding field and each chapter discusses their latest achievements in the preparation of various transition metal–dinitrogen complexes and their reactivity. This volume will be helpful to researchers, teachers, and students who are interested in innovative and sustainable chemistry.
Fun Facts about Nitrogen : Chemistry for Kids The Element Series | Children's Chemistry Books
by Baby Professor (Author)
Did you know that nitrogen is very important in all living system on Earth? You don't normally hear much about it but that doesn't mean it is not as important as oxygen. In this book, we're going to focus on the Nitrogen. At the end of this book, we hope you develop an appreciation for chemistry. Grab a copy today! View Details
The Alchemy of Air: A Jewish Genius, a Doomed Tycoon, and the Scientific Discovery That Fed the World but Fueled the Rise of Hitler
by Thomas Hager (Author)
A sweeping history of tragic genius, cutting-edge science, and the Haber-Bosch discovery that changed billions of lives--including your own.
At the dawn of the twentieth century, humanity was facing global disaster: Mass starvation was about to become a reality. A call went out to the world’ s scientists to find a solution.
This is the story of the two men who found it: brilliant, self-important Fritz Haber and reclusive, alcoholic Carl Bosch. Together they discovered a way to make bread out of air, built city-sized factories, and saved millions of lives.
But their... View Details
The Nitrogen Fix
by Hal Clement (Author), Chris Ruen (Reader)
A Nomadic family in the future is allied with an octopus-like alien who can survive in earth's new atmosphere, which has combined with nitrogen. Humans must live in shelters with oxygen-generating plants, or use suitable breathing equipment. Some of earth's original life forms have mutated to survive in the changed atmosphere. Since almost no metals can exist in the corrosive atmosphere, any technology is based on ceramics or glass.
Some humans are suspicious of the aliens, blaming them for the change in the atmosphere since they are adapted to it. The family has an almost fatal... View Details
by John Farndon (Author)
Every single thing and person consists of elements, and this informative series will help young readers understand just how important the elements are and what role they play in the science of chemistry. Enhanced by easy-to-follow diagrams and full-color illustrations, the text explains how elements behave, their individual characteristics and their importance in everyday life. In addition to informative "fact boxes, " each volume also contains "Did You Know" features which explore topics such as why carbon makes soft drinks fizz. A wonderfully balanced combination of color photographs,... View Details