Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
  Energy News  




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



ENERGY TECH
How protons move through a fuel cell
by Staff Writers
Zurich, Switzerland (SPX) Jun 27, 2017


The experiments have been conducted with Barium ceric oxide. The crystal is non conductive in a dry state. When moisture comes in, the protons form OH-bondings and move through the crystal.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton conductivity is crucial for the latter; protons, i.e. positively charged hydrogen ions, are formed from hydrogen, which is used to power the fuel cell.

Empa physicist Artur Braun and Qianli Chen, a doctoral student at ETH Zurich, conducted neutron scattering experiments on the Swiss Spallation Neutron Source (SINQ) at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) that document the mobility of protons in the crystal lattice.

In the process, they observed that the proton movements in ceramic fuel cells obey far more complex laws than previously assumed: The movement of the protons takes place according to the so-called polaron model, as the researchers recently reported in the renowned journal Nature Communications.

For a long time, the polaron theory developed by the Russian physicist and eventual Nobel Prize-winner Lev Davidovich Landau in 1933 only applied to electrons. The model describes how electrons "worm" their way through a dielectric crystal and force "interfering" atoms out of position, which slows down the electrons.

In other words, polarons are waves of movement in the crystal, the spread of which can be described as the trajectory of a particle. They can be deflected and reflected.

The electron polaron has long been a pillar of theoretical physics and the undisputed basis for applied model calculations in expert circles. By contrast, the existence of a hydrogen polaron - i.e. a hydrogen ion that "hops" from one position to the next - was only a speculative theory until now. Although biologists used the model of hopping hydrogen atoms to explain certain metabolic processes, solid-state physicists did not regard hydrogen polarons as a valid explanatory model.

This could now change: Based on experiments using yttrium-doped barium ceric oxide and barium zirconium oxide crystals, Braun and Chen managed to prove the existence of the proton polaron.

In a dry state, these crystals are non-conductive. If they are exposed to a steam atmosphere, however, OH groups form inside the crystal structure. Released protons can then move in a wavelike fashion and the oxide becomes ionically conductive. Heat and high pressure provide proof

Braun and Chen found evidence of hydrogen ion waves by studying the crystals under different high pressure conditions and at temperatures of up to 600 degrees Celsius. Empa's good connectivity in the scientific world was pivotal: The samples were x-rayed on PSI's neutron source and the high pressure experiments on the crystals were conducted in conjunction with researchers from the Faculty of Geosciences/Geography at Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main.

The result: At temperatures of between 220 and 520 degrees, the conductivity increases to exactly the same extent as predicted in model calculations for the lattice vibrations of the crystal. The protons are therefore initially bound in the crystal lattice and begin to hop through the crystal from one OH group to another in the concert of lattice vibrations when heated.

If the crystal is exposed to high pressure with a special compactor, there is less space for the proton leaps and the conductivity drops again. This proves that the polaron model applies to both electrons and protons. "And who knows, perhaps the theory also holds true for other ions such as lithium," speculates Braun.

The Empa researchers' findings could soon yield vital information on the choice of material for fuel cells and hydrogen storage systems - - and thus influence the energy supply of the future.

However, the behavior of ceramic insulators can also be gaged more effectively now: Do they still insulate well in high temperatures in the humid outside air? Or do current leakages develop that can be attributed to polaron conduction? Thanks to Braun and Chen's project, which was funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), certain riddles of materials science can thus be solved.

Research Report

ENERGY TECH
A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL
Lausanne, Switzerland (SPX) Jun 26, 2017
At EPFL, researchers challenge a fundamental law and discover that more electromagnetic energy can be stored in wave-guiding systems than previously thought. The discovery has implications in telecommunications. Working around the fundamental law, they conceived resonant and wave-guiding systems capable of storing energy over a prolonged period while keeping a broad bandwidth. Their trick was to ... read more

Related Links
Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology
Powering The World in the 21st Century at Energy-Daily.com


Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only

Comment using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

ENERGY TECH
Low-carbon trajectory is the only option, European leaders say

Divestment streak continues for British energy company Centrica

New ultrathin material for splitting water could make hydrogen production cheaper

Keeping the hydrogen coming

ENERGY TECH
A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

Clean energy stored in electric vehicles to power buildings

Battery improvements spark HEV EV market breakthrough

Liquified gas electrolytes power new lower-temperature battery

ENERGY TECH
Thrive Renewables delivers mezzanine funded wind farms in Scotland

It's a breeze: How to harness the power of the wind

ADB: Asia-Pacific growth tied to renewables

GE Energy Financial Services Surpasses $15 Billion in Renewable Energy Investments

ENERGY TECH
SOVENTIX and Gentec EPC sign a joint venture agreement to develop solar hybrid projects across Nigeria

Pacific island nations get renewable energy support

Using sunlight to the max

Alberta unveils solar-power rebate program

ENERGY TECH
UK nuclear plant to cost consumers billions more

Toshiba delays results again citing US nuclear unit

AREVA obtains transport license for its new cask in France and Belgium

NWMO to Focus Field Studies on Fewer Communities

ENERGY TECH
Researchers produce biofuel for conventional diesel engines

Scientists make plastic from sugar and carbon dioxide

Turning car plastics into foams with coconut oil

Scientists use new technique to recycle plant material into stock chemicals

ENERGY TECH
Rosneft aims to export Egyptian natural gas

Seismic surveys responsible for high zooplankton mortality rates

Best days ahead for oil-rich Canada, prime minister says

New research reveals impact of seismic surveys on zooplankton

ENERGY TECH
OECD: Air pollution, urbanization offsetting gains in renewables

Starvation looms as food runs out in drought-hit Ethiopia

World Bank: Middle East conflicts impede climate and other objectives

France pledges $34 mln for foreign climate experts




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News






The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement