02 December 2013

Danish Research Result 2013” comes from UCPH Chemist


With a method to make hydrogen cars cheaper, Matthias Arenz, a chemist at University of Copenhagen, has won the award “Danish Research Result of the Year”. The prize is given away by the leading science media in Denmark, Videnskab.dk.

More than 3.000 readers voted for ten nominated research results chosen by Videnskab.dk among 56 projects suggested by “Videnskab”-readers and research institutions.

No money but valuable honour

According to Videnskab.dk Matthias Arenz won with just 16 percent of the votes in an unusually close field. The prize is only honorary, but even honor can turn out to be valuable, say previous winners.

One earlier winner used the honorable award to get some lift under the commercialization of the winning project. Another found it much easier to get the message across to users.

More electgricity using less platinum

Matthias Arenz is an associate professor in chemistry at the University of Copenhagen. He wins the prestigious award for showing a way towards building fuel cells which produce as much electricity as current models while containing only a fraction of the platinum. His discovery was published in the periodical Nature Materials in July 2013.

The climate and envirnmentally friendly way to run a car

Fuel cells run on hydrogen, produce electric power and emit nothing but water, so they really ought to replace the internal combustion engines running our vehicles today. That would be better for the climate and for the environment but also for the economy. A fuel cell is capable of harnessing a much larger proportion of the energy in the fuel than the gasoline and diesel engines running our cars, busses and trucks today.

Rarity and cost a barrier to cleaner cars

Unfortunately fuel cells have one drawback. In order to work they need platinum: A precious metal rarer and more costly than gold. This has been a considerable barrier to the development of cost efficient versions of the fuel saving and climate friendly engines.

Arenz’ result is the first step toward a world where hydrogen powered cars have replaced the gas guzzlers we know today.

Videnskab.dk has awarded the prize every year since 2008. It is the second time a UCPH chemist is nominated, but the first time one wins.