From: Reuters
Published September 14, 2007 10:56 AM

Platinum-free fuel cell developed in Japan

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's Daihatsu Motor Co Ltd said on Friday it has developed a technology to make fuel cells without platinum, the precious metal used in the electrolyte process in existing hydrogen-based fuel cells.



By using alkali, instead of acid, anion exchange membranes, Daihatsu's fuel cell can work with less costly metals which are less resistant to corrosion than platinum, such as cobalt or nickel, Daihatsu said in a statement.



Daihatsu, Toyota Motor Corp's minivehicle unit, also said its newly developed fuel cell uses hydrazine hydrate, a liquid industrial material, instead of hydrogen, as an alternative fuel that emits no carbon dioxide.


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The new fuel cell generates power similar to that of existing hydrogen-based fuel cell, far more than fuel cell using other liquid fuel, like methanol, the company said.



Now that more countries focus on curbing carbon emissions and environment protection, major auto makers are involved in developing fuel-efficient vehicles including those without using fossil fuels.



"The new technology is giving us diversification in addition to our existing hydrogen-based fuel-cell technology," said Naoyuki Wakabayashi, a Daihatsu spokesman.



Currently, Daihatsu uses about 100 grams of platinum per vehicle in its hydrogen-based fuel-cell vehicles under development. Ordinary gasoline vehicles use about 5 gram per vehicle of platinum as a catalyst to filter out carbon monoxide and particulate emissions.



Cash platinum traded at around $1,285 per ounce (31 grams) in early European trade on Friday, up more than 10 percent since the start of this year. Platinum is mainly used in jewelry and auto catalyst, and is also considered as alternative financial assets to stocks and bonds.



Supply-side issues and limited above-ground stocks have made platinum far more expensive than palladium, another metal used for autocatalytic converters.



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