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The quest to harness hydrogen as the clean-burning fuel of the future demands the perfect catalysts—nanoscale machines that enhance chemical reactions. Scientists must tweak atomic structures to achieve an optimum balance of reactivity, durability, and industrial-scale synthesis. In an emerging catalysis frontier, scientists also seek nanoparticles tolerant to carbon monoxide, a poisoning impurity in hydrogen derived from natural gas. This impure fuel—40 percent less expensive than the pure hydrogen produced from water—remains largely untapped.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-09-nanocrystal-catalyst-impure-hydrogen-electricity.html#jCp

The quest to harness hydrogen as the clean-burning fuel of the future demands the perfect catalysts—nanoscale machines that enhance chemical reactions. Scientists must tweak atomic structures to achieve an optimum balance of reactivity, durability, and industrial-scale synthesis. In an emerging catalysis frontier, scientists also seek nanoparticles tolerant to carbon monoxide, a poisoning impurity in hydrogen derived from natural gas. This impure fuel—40 percent less expensive than the pure hydrogen produced from water—remains largely untapped.

Now, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory—in research published online September 18, 2013 in the journal Nature Communications—have created a high-performing nanocatalyst that meets all these demands. The novel core-shell structure—ruthenium coated with platinum—resists damage from carbon monoxide as it drives the energetic reactions central to electric vehicle fuel cells and similar technologies.

"These nanoparticles exhibit perfect atomic ordering in both the ruthenium and platinum, overcoming structural defects that previously crippled carbon monoxide-tolerant catalysts," said study coauthor and Brookhaven Lab chemist Jia Wang. "Our highly scalable, 'green' synthesis method, as revealed by atomic-scale imaging techniques, opens new and exciting possibilities for catalysis and sustainability."

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