A metal-free catalyst can do the trick, the researchers say. During testing, a cathode coated with graphene nanoparticles edged with iodine turned out to be more efficient in oxygen reduction reaction. It can also generate 33 percent more current than a cathode coated with platinum can create.
"We made metal-free catalysts using an affordable and scalable process," Liming Dai, a professor of macromolecular science and engineering at Case WesternReserve and one of the report's authors, told Phys.org. "The catalysts are more stable than platinum catalysts and tolerate carbon monoxide poisoning and methanol crossover."
The researchers are looking at methanol as one of the sources for electrons to powering fuel cell vehicles, which is not unusual. Methanol is interesting to engineers and scientists as an alternative fuel, but faces similar refueling obstacles in the real world, just like hydrogen.