Friday, 1 June 2018

Lego-like chemical building blocks assemble themselves to create a catalyst for hydrogen fuel cells

Source: University of Buffalo, 31st May 2018, by Charlotte Hsu

BUFFALO, N.Y. — What’s better than platinum?

In hydrogen fuel cells, the answer is cofacial cobalt porphyrins.

It’s a mouthful to say, and if you’re not a chemist, you’ve probably never heard of these compounds before. But these molecules — which are great at facilitating a chemical reaction that’s needed to produce power from hydrogen and oxygen — could be the next big advance in alternative energy.

The compounds assemble themselves in the lab from Lego-like chemical building blocks that are designed to fit together. It’s shake-and-bake technology: Scientists add the pieces to a flask, stir them together and add heat. Over time, the building blocks join together in the right places to form the final complexes.

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