Chemists from the American University in Washington (USA) have created a carbon-based catalyst that, for the first time in history, proved to be more effective than platinum. And they were helped in this by a natural energy concentrator – spinach. The new catalyst will find application in the fuel cells of the future, which are very cheap and safe.
To take advantage of the potential of spinach, it had to be processed many times. The green mass was soaked in a slightly salted solution, then dried, sublimated and sent to heat treatment. The end product was a few nanometer thick plates. Spinach has a very high density of energy molecules, so in the form of ultra-thin sheets, it can compete with similar platinum plates in the oxygen reduction reaction.
Experiments have shown that the use of a spinach catalyst makes fuel cells not only more efficient than platinum ones, but also more stable in operation. The main advantage is that platinum is expensive and difficult to mine, and spinach can be grown easily and cheaply on an industrial scale. It is a classic green technology, safe and based on renewable resources. True, the spinach fuel cell is still only a prototype, and for commercial use the technology will still require improvements.