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  Spinach Gives Fuel Cells a Power Up
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ContributorRP 
Last EditedRP  Oct 15, 2020 07:32am
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CategoryStudy
AuthorPayal Dhar
News DateWednesday, October 14, 2020 09:00:00 PM UTC0:0
DescriptionWhen Shouzhong Zou and his team at the Department of Chemistry, American University, decided to try spinach as way to improve the performance of fuel cells, even they were a little surprised at how well it worked. In their proof-of-concept experiments, they used spinach—bought from local supermarkets—to make a carbon-rich catalyst that can be used in fuel cells and metal-air batteries.

The preparation of the spinach-based catalyst sounds as first suspiciously like a smoothie recipe at first—wash fresh leaves, pulverize into a juice, and freeze-dry. This freeze-dried juice is then ground into a powder, to which melamine is added as a nitrogen promoter. Salts like sodium chloride and potassium chloride—“pretty much like the table salt that we use in our kitchen,” says Zou—are also added, necessary for creating pores that increase the surface area available for reactions. Nanosheets are produced from the spinach–melamine–salt composites by pyrolyzing them at 900 C a couple of times. “Obviously…we can optimize how we prepare this material [to make it more efficient].”
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