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Newly Discovered Property of Graphene to Boost Fuel Cells Efficiency

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1.16425nocropThe founder of graphene discovered one more incredible property of the material that can give the ever-so-needed to boost fuel cells and hydrogen-based technologies. The strongest, thinnest, and initially known as impermeable material, in fact allows hydrogen protons to pass through.

No wonder graphene is labelled as the “miracle material”. Every property or use of it that is discovered, opens up a great deal of new and super exciting opportunities and applications. Of course, there is no one, who better understands graphene than its discoverer- the Nobel prize winner Andre Geim of University of Manchester, and therefore it is no surprise that exactly his team has found yet another super exciting property of the thin super-strong material.

In the study published this week in the journal Nature, the team describes how at high temperatures, above 250 degrees Celsius, graphene allows hydrogen protons to pass through. In addition, this process of proton transport can be enhanced by adding an extra layer of catalytic metal nanoparticles, such as platinum. This great discovery has a potential in improving the performance of fuel cells. Here, it could act as a proton-conducting membrane, which could potentially eliminate the pressing problem of fuel leaks, associated with reduction of cell efficiency. This property also opens up new horizons for development of exciting hydrogen-based technologies.

According to Geim and his team at University of Manchester, their latest discovery could lead to developing of a new technique for hydrogen extraction from the atmosphere. They also suggest that with further research and development in this field, this could be combined with fuel cells and result in what the team calls “mobile electric generators” powered by very small amounts of hydrogen.  In other words, they prove that fuel can be pumped directly from the atmosphere.

Image (c) Getty

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