In a major step for green tech, scientists have taken regular grocery store spinach and turned it into the catalyst for a renewable and efficient fuel cell! Scientists have been working with spinach in various capacities, trying to harness its powers like Popeye. This proof-of-concept renewable fuel cell is the latest achievement.
Lead scientist Shouzhong Zou, a chemist from American University, along with his team has been able to exploit the high density of energy-generating molecules found in spinach. It can have great applications in industrial use, reports Ars Technica.
The research was published in ACS Omega last month. Usually, carbon-based catalysts for fuel cells perform better than platinum. But when scientists used salted spinach blended and dried as nanosheets, they were more efficient than even platinum. The lightly-salted spinach blend had to be treated with heat into layers of the nanosheets for the renewable fuel cells.
Future of Renewable Fuel Cells
In a press release, Zou explained how this research suggested that sustainable catalysts are possible to be created from natural resources to create oxygen reducing reactions.
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“The method we tested can produce highly active, carbon-based catalysts from spinach, which is a renewable biomass. In fact, we believe it outperforms commercial platinum catalysts in both activity and stability.”
While this experiment was a success, it will take some time for spinach to be used in the real world. This research just proves that the concept of using natural resources like spinach can actually produce favorable results. In the near future when green tech keeps expanding, experts believe spinach cells will be the more sustainable alternative. Renewable fuel cells could be powering a variety of electronics, including electric cars.