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Synthesis

Platinum-Free Hydrazine Fuel Cell

September 24, 2007 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 85, ISSUE 39

A new type of fuel cell that runs on hydrazine (N2H4) bypasses some of the barriers impeding wide-scale implementation of conventional hydrogen fuel cells in automobiles (Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., DOI: 10.1002/anie.200701334). The device, designed by Hirohisa Tanaka and Koichiro Asazawa of Daihatsu Motor Co., in Japan, and coworkers, incorporates a solid hydroxide anion-exchange membrane in place of the commonly used sulfonic acid-based proton-conducting membrane. That change transforms the chemical nature of the fuel cell's interior from acidic to alkaline and thus eliminates the need for expensive corrosion-resistant platinum catalysts. In addition, because the fuel cell runs directly on liquid hydrazine, which has a greater energy density than gaseous or liquid hydrogen, it avoids some of the safety and technical challenges associated with high-pressure hydrogen fuel cells even as it provides comparable power output.

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