Scientists’ efforts to find affordable and sustainable alternatives to expensive platinum catalysts used in fuel cells have found a new breakthrough. Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras and scientists from the UK and China have developed zirconium nitride nanoparticles which can be an economical alternative to platinum catalysts used in fuel cells. The cost of a platinum catalyst used in a fuel cell is about 20 percent of the total value of the cell.
Platinum is a rare metal which costs up to three thousand rupees per gram. On the other hand, zirconium is present on earth in plenty and it is also up to 700 times cheaper than platinum. Researchers say that cheaper and better fuel cells could be seen in the market in the near future if these nanoparticles are actually used. In addition to IIT Madras researcher Teeju Thomas, the study includes Yao Yuan, Hangjia Sen and Sameera Adimi of the Ningbo Institute of Materials Technology and Engineering in China, Jiacheng Wang of the Shanghai Institute of Ceramics and Rugang Ma, UK University of Edinburgh KJ Paul Atfield and Minghui Yang, a scientist at the University of China Academy of Sciences, was involved. This study has recently been published in the research journal Nature Materials.