Clean and affordable energy storage and conversion technologies, such as fuel cells, are required to solve one of the most pertinent challenges facing society – energy sustainability. New nanostructured material designs are required to transform the performance of fuel cells to levels where they are practical for transportation, backup and stationary power applications.
To accomplish this, a group of researchers have developed a new hybrid catalyst technology to reduce oxygen at the cathode of such devices. Inexpensive transition metal based nitrogen-doped graphene tubes (N-GTs) with some degree of oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) activity are used in combination with highly active platinum. Through this innovative arrangement, Pt/N-GT provides improved ORR activity, stability, and fuel cell performance in comparison to Pt/C, the industry standard. This allows for reduced platinum requirement and increased performance in advanced fuel cell designs, and by extension reduced system costs.