Brookhaven Lab Scientist Named 'Inventor of the Year' For Fuel Cell Research

Platinum can look great in jewelry, but as an integral component to hydrogen fuel cells, anything that reduces the content required of the costly metal is considered a plus.

At the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York last week, Radoslav Adzic, an inventor of an innovative nanocatalyst for fuel cell vehicles, was recognized for doing just that.

Adzic was honored as 2012 Inventor of the Year by the New York Intellectual Property Law Association (NYIPLA) for work by he and his team that will effectively reduce the cost required to produce hydrogen fuel cells.

Their discovery is not sufficient to make fuel cell vehicle all-of-a-sudden commercially viable, but his electrocatalyst presents a novel, scientific remedy to at least one commercial roadblock by making platinum electrocatalysts more durable and affordable.

According to
an article in Brookhaven Today, platinum is an extremely effective electrocatalyst for fuel cell vehicles, but its lack of durability and its high cost needed to be overcome.
Adzic and his lab got around these barriers by devising an electrocatalyst with a coating of hearty palladium alloy nanoparticle which has a monolayer of platinum only a single-atom thick.

“There was actually a lot of skepticism regarding this concept, but we now have proven that the stability and activity of the catalysts are such that they can be applied in a real fuel cell for electric cars,” said Adzic. “We hope that N.E. Chemcat will be successful in marketing this catalyst.”

As evidence of its effectiveness, earlier this year the new electrocatalysts as well as the device that creates them were licensed to Japan’s leading catalyst and precious metal producer, N.E. Chemcat Corporation.

“We have been collaborating with N.E. Chemcat for a couple of years,” Adzic said. “They spent several weeks in our labs, during which they went over the catalyst preparation so they were able to reproduce the results and even perfect the catalyst, make large-scale quantities that can satisfy industrial requirements for fuels cells, and investigate the properties of the catalyst under real conditions of catalyzation in a fuel cell.”

Researchers say hydrogen/oxygen fuel cell vehicles – which produce electricity, with water as a byproduct – still need more development before they are ready to be presented as cost effective and practical.

But Adzic’s work with the nanocatalysts was enough to earn recognition, and he will be presented the award formally at a dinner May 22 at the Princeton Club in New York.

“Radoslav is a very thoughtful scientist. It is a real pleasure working with him,” said intellectual property attorney Alan Sack who was involved in selecting Adzic for the Inventor of the Year award. “I am very happy for him and for the Lab that he won.”

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  • Max Reid

    Congrats scientists on great job done. Hope some day, fuel cell vehicles hit the roads and also the price goes down.

  • MrEnergyCzar

    If only they can get rid of the big roadblocks…i.e. make hydrogen actually worth making as you currently get out about half the energy you put in to make it…ouch.


  • Mark Goldes

    The most interesting Fuel Cell has been invented in Vietnam. This Hydroelectric innovation needs only water, fresh or salt, added.

    A 2 kW home generator is en-route to production in that nation priced at $1,600.

    See Moving Beyond Oil and Cheap Green on the Aesop Institute website for a few details.

    As well as reasons that breakthrough technologies such as that one may be urgently needed to insure human survival for many millions of people.

  • Anonymous

    Here’s a thought.

    Use salt water to produce electricity thereby counter balancing the ice melt from global warming.

    (Provided global warming is true of course!!)