Researchers from University at Buffalo found that manganese metal could be used to harness hydrogen fuel cells.
Manganese is a widely available metal and used for making stainless steel and aluminum soda cans. A researcher team at University at Buffalo found that the catalyst made from manganese could be used to make hydrogen fuel cells. Their findings were reported and published in the journal Nature Catalysis (October 29, 2018).
Previously, the catalysts used to produce hydrogen fuel cells were made with platinum, which is rare and expensive metal. However, with this discovery, scientists are hopeful that the production of hydrogen fuel cells could become an inexpensive affair as manganese catalyst is abundantly available at lower price.
“We haven’t been able to advance a large-scale hydrogen economy because of this issue involving catalysts. But manganese is one of the most common elements in Earth’s crust and it’s widely distributed across the planet. It could finally address this problem,” explained Gang Wu, Ph.D., associate professor of chemical and biological engineering in UB’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and lead author of the study.
Using a simple two-step method, the researchers added carbon and a form of nitrogen called tetranitrogen to manganese. The catalyst, thus formed was highly stable enabling the potential to split water. The required stability as that of platinum and other metal-based alternatives was observed in manganese by adding tetranitrogen to it. This approach could be used in buses, cars, and other machines to power using hydrogen cells.