Renewable energy sources are critical to the nation’s future, and hydrogen-powered fuel cells offer an attractive alternative to current technologies. However, fuel-cell catalysts must become more durable, efficient, and inexpensive before they are practical and cost-effective. Because most fuel cells use platinum or platinum alloys as catalysts, the limited platinum supply is a barrier to widespread fuel cell use.

Many 300-nm platinum nanodisks templated by surfactant bicellar disks.

Sandia researchers developed innovative platinum catalysts production methods that offer much greater control over the shape, size, porosity, composition, stability, and other functional properties of platinum nanostructures than those achieved by existing methods.

Due to the nanostructure’s high surface area and durability, the process is expected to reduce platinum usage not only in fuel cells, but in other renewable-energy applications as well.

Sandia has licensed several patents to Compass Metals for the platinum catalysts. Under a multiyear cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA), Sandia and Compass Metals are also collaborating to further improve the synthesis for platinum nanomaterials in large-scale preparations, as well as look into additional fields of use such as solar cells and organic field effect transistors.

Read more about the ECIS-Compass Metals partnership.