EngineInternationalIndiaAfricaThe proposed import-substituting technology should allow scientists to produce catalysts which may surpass foreign analogues in various characteristics.Scientists from the Southern Federal University (SFedU) have discovered a method to produce catalysts for environmentally-friendly engines.Electrocatalysts are among the main components of low-temperature fuel cells (LTFC), widely used in next-generation “clean” vehicles. The quality of the catalyst primarily determines the power performance and service life of the LTFC, the scientists explained.The catalyst is a layer of nanoparticles of platinum or other metals deposited on a carbon base. The fuel cell’s efficiency can be improved by controlling the electrocatalysts’ microstructure during their production, the specialists said.The scientists have created a new method for controlling the microstructure of these catalysts for LTFCs. According to them, their technology changes the parameters of the catalyst depending on the tasks of the final device. The technology differs from analogues in its simplicity, scalability, and absence of additives that pollute the environment. The results of their study were published in the Catalysts journal.“The better the electrocatalyst, the faster the current-forming reactions and the higher the power of the final devices. Our catalysts accelerate chemical transformations in LTFCs and increase their resistance to pollutants contained in fuels and to methanol oxidation products,” Kirill Paperzh, a postgraduate student at the SFedU Department of Electrochemistry, explained.According to the researchers, production of new catalysts can be completely import-independent. In this case, the cost of domestic materials will be significantly lower than that of commercial foreign counterparts, while their functional characteristics will be significantly higher in a number of parameters.LTFCs with new catalysts will be required for the production of cars, trains, ships, drones, portable chargers, and other modern environmentally friendly transportation and energy systems, the experts said.“We have synthesized electrocatalysts that can be used as an anode in LTFCs running on both methanol fuel and hydrogen-air fuel blends,” Paperzh said.Using the method proposed by SFedU scientists, it becomes possible to produce more than one gram of catalyst per cycle, while other technologies provide a product yield of 10 times less, the scientists noted.”One important characteristic of catalysts is the electrochemically active surface area: the higher this value is, the faster the current-forming reaction can proceed. Our material has twice as much active surface area as the best commercial counterpart,” Paperzh noted.The researchers stressed that the new method of synthesis provides free variations of all key parameters of the catalyst, including its metal content, composition, and size of the nanoparticles. Environmentally safe liquid-phase synthesis methods were used in the work, the scientists said.The scientific team is currently developing new ways to improve the microstructure of catalytic materials through the use of ultraviolet irradiation in the synthesis process.