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03 07 2017 02

Scientists at Rice University and their colleagues in China have fabricated a durable catalyst for high-performance fuel cells by attaching single ruthenium atoms to nitrogen-doped graphene. Catalysts that drive the oxygen reduction reaction in fuel cells are usually made of platinum. Platinum is expensive, however, and scientists have searched for decades for a suitable replacement.

The ruthenium-graphene combination may fit the bill, said chemist James Tour, whose lab developed the material with his colleagues at Rice and in China. The Ru/nitrogen- doped GO catalyst exhibits excellent four-electron ORR activity, offering onset and half-wave potentials of 0.89 and 0.75 V, respectively, vs a reversible hydrogen electrode (RHE) in 0.1 M HClO4, together with better durability and tolerance toward methanol and carbon monoxide poisoning than seen in commercial Pt/C catalysts. A paper on the work appears in the journal ACS Nano.

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