February 24, 2015

Finnish researchers develop new solutions for storing electric energy

Researchers at Aalto University have succeeded in creating a cost-effective and efficient alternative to platinum in an electrolyser.
Researchers at Aalto University have succeeded in creating a cost-effective and efficient alternative to platinum in an electrolyser.
Aalto University

The scarce and expensive platinum has traditionally been used as the electrocatalyst in electrolysers that store electric energy in the form of a chemical compound. Now researchers at Aalto University have succeeded in creating a cost-effective and efficient substitute for it.

The finding is related to storing electric energy, which is one of the challenges in increasing the use of renewable energy. The researchers succeeded in making the electrocatalyst needed for storing electric energy from carbon and iron.

“We developed an electrocatalyst that is made of iron and carbon. Now the same efficiency that was achieved with platinum can be obtained with a less expensive material. Nearly 40 per cent of the material costs of energy storage with an electrolyser come from the electrocatalyst,” says senior scientist Tanja Kallio.

The manufacturing process has been developed in cooperation with a research group led by professor Esko Kauppinen from Aalto University School of Science.

“In the finished product, the iron is covered with graphene. The method has been altered to make the electrocatalyst highly active. By active, we refer to the small amount of energy needed to store electric energy as hydrogen. This reduces the losses caused by chemical storage and makes the process economically viable,” says Kauppinen.

The findings were published on 12 February 2015 in the scientific journal Angewandte Chemie.

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