Scientists at Brown University and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have developed nanoparticles with a palladium core and an iron-platinum shell that can outperform commercially available platinum fuel cell catalysts. Most current fuel cells use platinum as the catalyst, which is what breaks the fuel down into electricity. But platinum not only is very expensive, it also degenerates and loses its potency as a catalyst over time in the fuel cell.
The new nanoparticles developed by the researchers use a much lower amount of platinum, yet produces 12 times more current than the equivalent amount of commercially available platinum catalyst. An even better benefit is that output from the new nanoparticle catalyst remained the same over 10,000 cycles, which is at least 10 times longer than the fuel cells that are commercially available.