Non-noble metal catalysts might be considered the most feasible way to permanently resolve the cost issue for fuel cell commercialization, especially considering the development of Pt prices in the recent years.
Even though activity and stability challenges are still far from being suitable for practical PEM fuel cell applications, the improvement of this type of catalysts might be essential for a sustainable application of PEM fuel cells.
The figure shows a scanning electron micrograph of Pt-based catalyst particles (bright little particles). They have a diameter of a few nanometer, which is typical for this Pt-based catalysts. It is also possible to image catalyst particles by transmission electron microscopy - even with better resolution.
Image published in: A. Pfrang, Fuel cell testing – Degradation of fuel cells and its impact on fuel cell applications, GIT Laboratory Journal Europe 2009, 13(3-4), 42-44