Now Spinach Can Be Used to Power Up Fuel Cells with More Efficiency

Spinach, the green vegetable that we all had to eat by the cartoon character Popeye in our childhood, is not only for the purpose of providing humans with enormous amounts of energy and nutrients.

This type of vegetable has the potential to boost power fuel cells, according to a new study by researchers from the AU Department of Chemistry.

A group of AU researchers recently demonstrated the vegetable’s potential by converting it into carbon nanosheets, that act as a catalyst for the reduction of oxygen in fuel cells and, metal-air batteries.



Spinach for improving fuel cell performance.

Spinach for improving fuel cell performance.

Shouzhong Zou and the other researchers from the Department of Chemistry, American University (AU) decided to try spinach as a way to improve fuel cell performance, and even they were surprised by the result.

In proof-of-concept experiments, they used locally purchased spinach to make their carbon catalyst for fuel cells and, metal-air batteries which would otherwise typically use platinum-based catalysts.

This work suggests that durable catalysts can be made for an oxygen reduction reaction from natural resources, said Professor Shouzhong Zou, professor of chemistry at AU and lead author of the document, explained in a statement.

“The method we tested can produce highly active carbon-based catalysts from spinach, which is renewable biomass.

In fact, we believe it outperforms commercial platinum catalysts in terms of activity and, stability Catalysts are potentially applicable in hydrogen fuel cells and, metals – airborne batteries “, continued Professor Shouzhong Zou.



Popeye would be proud.

Popeye would be proud

The spinach-based catalyst from the AU researchers offers an inexpensive and less toxic alternative, to traditional platinum-based catalysts.

Spinach is an excellent candidate as a catalyst of plant origin due to the fact that it survives at low temperatures.

Spinach is a good candidate for this work because it survives low temperatures, is easy to grow and is rich in iron and nitrogen, essential components for this type of catalyst.

In order to create their spinach nanosheets, the researchers washed, pressed, and freeze-dried the spinach before manually crushing it into a fine powder. They then added a little extra nitrogen to the spinach powder to improve performance.

Impressively, the team said their lab simulation measurements showed that their spinach catalysts performed better than equivalent platinum-based catalysts.

Next, the researchers aim to test their prototypes of devices, such as hydrogen fuel cells.