The fuel cell in hydrogen cars produces electricity from hydrogen to power the vehicle. The essential metal for their production is platinum. Only around 180 tonnes of platinum is mined worldwide each year, but 90 per cent of this production comes from three countries - South Africa, Russia and Zimbabwe. Currently, about 20 to 30 grams of platinum are used per hydrogen car fuel cell. Prof. Matolín and his research team designed, built and patented a fuel cell component that needs much less platinum on the electrodes.
Charles University, which owns the patent, recently concluded a contract with a German company to produce a prototype that will test the possibilities of continuous production. The unnamed German partner would then sell the production facility to those interested in producing the catalysts needed for fuel cells.
In the context of the European Union's objective to decarbonise transport and move towards greener options, a shift away from current vehicles that generate more emissions is expected. In heavy goods transport, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles could play a bigger role, according to the platform. They have the undeniable advantage of longer range or operation at low temperatures, where there is significantly less range loss compared to battery electric vehicles.
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