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Images of particles made from a promising battery cathode material called NMC

Self-Regenerating Fuel Cells Running on Natural Gas

Precourt Institute for Energy

Robert Sinclair, materials science and engineering; William Chueh, materials science and engineering and the Precourt Institute.

Certain types of fuel cells can convert natural gas into electricity and back again with very high efficiency, eliminating the traditional fuel cell’s production of hydrogen from natural gas as the energy source. However, the catalysts used by such fuel cells degrade quickly, so the cells stop working after a few years. Attempts to develop self-regenerating catalysts for these devices have fallen short. Using Stanford’s Titan environmental transmission electron microscope—the only one in the United States—this project seeks to illuminate the fundamental chemical and structural transformations needed for developing self-regenerating catalysts for elevated-temperature ceramic fuel cells and electrolysis cells.