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Scientists find way to turn base metal into precious one

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have discovered a way to turn a nickel-rich nanoparticle into a platinum-rich “nanoframe,” a paper published in the journal Science Express shows.

The team was able to convert platinum-nickel polyhedral into frames with richer platinum content. The finding may not only shape the development of fuel cells and other electrochemical technologies, but also opens the door for further attempts to turning base metals into precious ones.

Platinum is a highly active catalytic agent, making it desirable for scientists looking for new materials to use in fuel cells and metal-air batteries, among other technologies.

The new catalysts, hollow polyhedral nanoframes of platinum and nickel, feature a three-dimensional catalytic surface activity that makes them significantly more efficient and far less expensive than the best platinum catalysts used in today’s fuel cells and alkaline electrolyzers.

The methods developed by the group present the prospect of widespread application. If these new nanoframe catalysts can be successfully commercialized, they may make their way into engineering handbooks.

Scientists find way to turn base metal into precious one

Images by Algol/ and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory