Self-assembling 'Lego-like' chemicals might create future hydrogen fuel cells
In the future, hydrogen cells might be created from "Lego-like" chemicals.

Tyler MacDonald | 4 hours ago

A new study suggests that the future of creating hydrogen fuel cells lies in cofacial cobalt porphyrins. It's a mouthful to say, and you probably haven't heard of these compounds before if you're not involved in the field of chemistry. But these compounds, which are created by "Lego-like" chemicals, could be a big advancement in alternative energy.

The compounds assemble themselves in the laboratory from "Lego-like" building blocks that are added into a flask, stirred together, and heated. Over time, the blocks join together until they end up in their final form.

And since the material is cheap and easy to create in large quantities, its an ideal candidate for replacing the expensive platinum catalysts used in modern hydrogen fuel cells.

"To bring down the price of hydrogen vehicles and make them a realistic option for more people, we need a catalyst that's cheaper than platinum," said Timothy Cook, senior author on the study. "The catalyst we made can be self-assembled in huge quantities. It has ruthenium and cobalt in itmuch cheaper metalsand, yet, it works as well or better than a commercially available platinum catalyst that we tested alongside it."

"It is truly rewarding to work on the fundamental chemistry of this project, which could have a large impact on carbon-neutral energy conversion," saidAmanda Oldacre, the first author on the study. "Using self-assembly techniques, we are able to make cheaper materials in 48 hours, without the difficult, time-consuming purification steps that other methods for synthesizing new compounds require."

The findings were published in Chemistry - A European Journal.

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