Stop a Presses: NIST Finds a Way to Measure Fuel Cell ‘Printing’ during a Fast Clip

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If you’re wondering when a hydrogen-powered automobile will turn a viable choice for you, take heart. A group including scientists during a National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) might have overcome a poignant jump to prolongation hydrogen fuel cells by formulating a proceed to check possibly a dear catalysts a cells need have been incorporated quick and effectively. Improved dimensions methods are pivotal to bringing hydrogen appetite a step closer to careful mass production.

Well-controlled enlightenment allows a team’s antecedent device (top left) to indicate skinny layers of glass containing gold nanoparticles (lower center), a matter used in fuel cells. Scaling adult a proceed (right) could assistance accommodate industry’s quality-control needs. Image credit: M. Stocker

Hydrogen vehicles have not cowed a highway like electric ones have yet, though it’s not for miss of potency or environmental friendliness. Hydrogen gas contains about 3 times as most appetite by mass as hoary fuels do, and a fuel cell’s usually byproduct is water. But, while stuffing a fuel tank with hydrogen is fast, building a engine is not, during slightest by industrial standards. A fuel dungeon requires skinny layers of a platinum-based matter to modify hydrogen into electric energy, and a attention has lacked an fit proceed to weigh a layers’ properties. That miss is one reason usually about 1,800 hydrogen vehicles(link is external) were on a highway as of a year or so ago, and they can cost twice as most as a required vehicle.

The matter needs to finish adult as dual skinny layers on possibly side of a polymer piece that resembles cosmetic wrap, so a industry’s proceed has been to provide a matter like ink. The routine mixes gold particles with CO to form a low black liquid that even looks ink-like. Then a appurtenance imitative a journal copy press lays a reduction down as a piece unspools from a hulk roll. The problem is that a gold in this ink costs upwards of $35 per gram ($1,000 an ounce), so manufacturers need a proceed to make certain only adequate is laid down to get a pursuit done—and not one dear dump more. And a routine has to be quick adequate to make fuel cells for thousands of cars per year, definition a cosmetic has to hurl quickly.

The team, that enclosed scientists from NIST and industry, found an answer stemming from their experience measuring little objects for a totally opposite industry: mechanism chip manufacturing. But their common approach, formed on reflecting a laser’s light from a chip surface, demanded a rethink.

“We’ve got imagination in visual methods for measuring facilities smaller than 10 nanometers on chips, and a gold particles are during a same scale,” pronounced NIST earthy scientist Michael Stocker. “We knew fundamentally what we were doing, though chips don’t fly by during 30 meters (about 100 feet) per minute, so there was a speed challenge. Plus, you’re looking during something that’s black, so we didn’t have most reflected light to measure.”

After addressing this plea by investigate and development, a group built a novel instrument regulating off-the-shelf record that can detect a low levels of light reflected off a little gold particles as a piece moves past during a scale or two per minute.

Stocker pronounced there are no elemental barriers to scaling adult a process or augmenting a speed to accommodate a industry’s destiny needs. For instance, a manufacturer could array a quarrel of these instruments to indicate a meter-wide sheet, with any one identifying difficulty spots in a sold section. Though a method would expected need to be total with other techniques such as X-ray shimmer to form a finish solution, Stocker pronounced that it leaves fuel dungeon manufacturers in a good place.

“It’s all only visual engineering from this indicate onward,” he said. “Industry can take it from here.”

Source: NIST

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