U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) researchers have won 32 of the 100 awards given out this year by R&D Magazine, including a project from Argonne National Laboratory focused on fuel cell catalysts. DOE also received a special recognition award for the most outstanding technology developments with promising commercial potential. The R&D 100 Awards, sometimes called the “Oscars of Innovation,” are given annually in recognition of exceptional new products or processes that were developed and introduced into the marketplace during the previous year. The awards were presented at a special event in the Washington D.C. area’s National Harbor on the evening of Thursday, November 3.

Argonne’s Porous Nano-Network Catalyst revolutionizes the non-precious metal catalyst design and synthesis simultaneously at the active site and electrode architecture levels. It offers the highest possible active site density and significantly improves charge and mass transfers using low-cost chemicals and earthly abundant materials. The catalysts are demonstrated to be highly effective toward oxygen reduction reaction, a key electrochemical reaction at the fuel cell cathode, in both acidic and basic environments, making it applicable to both proton exchange membrane and alkaline membrane fuel cells. The new catalyst outperforms the best benchmarked non-precious metal catalyst by 76 percent and approaches carbon-supported platinum in acidic media, and outperforms carbon-supported platinum in alkaline media in both activity and durability. It also led to 20 to 25 times cost saving in the catalyst material, rendering it an attractive and viable replacement for the expensive precious metal catalysts in practical fuel cell applications.

Read more about these projects at the Argonne website.