Award Year 

Renewable energy sources are of great in-terest today given the increasing costs and negative environmental impact associat-ed with continued fossil fuel use. Hydro-gen-powered fuel cells offer an attractive alternative to current technologies; however, more durable, efficient, and inexpensive fuel cell catalysts are required before fuel cells can be a practical and cost-effective solution to the growing energy crisis. One promising method of developing relatively inexpensive fuel cell catalysts is the use of high-quality platinum electrocatalysts (more) that allow the size and shape of the platinum structure to be manipulated at the nanoscale. Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) have developed innovative methods of producing platinum catalysts that offer much greater control over the shape, size, porosity, composition, stability, and other functional properties of platinum nanostruc-tures than those achieved by existing meth-ods. These highly efficient, novel catalysts are expected to reduce the amount of plat-inum needed and thus reduce the cost of platinum catalysts for use in fuel cells, solar cells, and other applications in the renew-able energy sector.Compass Metals, Inc. has negotiated a li-cense with SNL for the rights to ten patents to make, use, and sell these platinum cata-lysts in the fuel cell area. Under a multi-year Cooperative Re-search and Devel-opment Agreement (CRADA), SNL and Compass Metals are also collaborating to further improve the synthesis of plati-num nanomaterials in large-scale prepa-rations to determine the best methods for incorporating these new nanomaterials in the fabrication of fuel cell electrodes and to discover new nanomaterials. Ultimately, the advances achieved through this technology transfer effort will lead to improved energy security for the United States. Nanoscience, the study of matter at the atomic scale, offers new approaches to addressing U.S. energy security challenges through understanding and developing ma-terials that exhibit novel and unprecedented functionality for energy production, storage, and use. By building structures one atom at a time, materials can be designed to have catalytic, electrical, or optical properties that can be applied to the specific economic and security needs of the nation. (less)