The world’s largest producer of niobium is Brazil, and it holds about 98 % of the energetic reserves on the planet. This chemical element is used in steel alloys, particularly high-strength steel, and in an almost limitless array of high-tech purposes from cell phones to plane engines. Brazil exports a lot of the niobium it produces within the type of commodities comparable to ferroniobium. One other substance Brazil additionally has in copious portions.
However, underuses are glycerol, a byproduct of oil and fats saponification within the cleaning soap and detergent industry, and of transesterification reactions within the biodiesel trade. In this case, the scenario is even worse as a result of glycerol is usually discarded as waste, and correct disposal of huge volumes is complicated.
A research carried out on the Federal University of the ABC (UFABC) in São Paulo State, Brazil, mixed niobium and glycerol in a promising technological answer to the production of gas cells. An article describing the research, entitled “Niobium enhances electrocatalytic Pd activity in alkaline direct glycerol fuel cells,” is published in ChemElectroChem and featured on the cover of the journal.
Within the cell, chemical energy from the glycerol oxidation response within the anode and air oxygen reduction within the cathode is transformed into electricity, leaving only carbon fuel and water as residues. The whole response is C3H8O3 (liquid glycerol) + 7/2 O2 (oxygen gas) → 3 CO2 (carbon gas) + 4 H2O (liquid water). A schematic illustration of the method is proven below.
From the environmental standpoint, which more than ever must be a decisive criterion for technological decisions, the glycerol fuel cell is taken into account a virtuous answer as a result of it might probably change combustion engines powered by fossil fuels.