As the sustainable Juggernaut
of fuel cell vehicles (FCV) powers ever forward, a group of scientists are cooking up ways to make the alternative energy source more durable and even cheaper. By combining graphene
-- think pencil lead -- and indium tin oxide (ITO) nanoparticles, the team produced a catalytic material that is both stronger and more chemically active than the usual catalytic combo. Fuel cells typically use a chemical catalyst like platinum, sitting atop a base of black carbon or metal oxides, to break down oxygen and hydrogen gases, creating water in the process -- thing is, carbon is easily eroded by the resulting water, and metal oxides, while more stable, are less conductive. Using graphene -- which because of its porousness erodes less quickly -- in combination with the stable ITO and platinum nanoparticles, researchers have created what could be referred to as a super fuel cell -- a stronger, longer lasting, and potentially cheaper version of the alternative energy source. Unfortunately, without enough hydrogen filling stations
, these super fuel cells won't come to anyone's rescue anytime soon.