In the development of fuel cells the effort of generations of scientist and engineers have led to efficient and stable catalysts based on noble metals. These catalysts have reached the required threshold in terms of performance for applications such as electric cars. However, the high costs of the scarce noble metals render their widespread application economically less viable. In a paper published this week in the journal Nature Chemistry, researchers from the Center for Electrochemical Sciences – CES at the Ruhr-University Bochum and from the Max-Planck-Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion in Mülheim an der Ruhr report a novel concept to work with efficient and possibly cheaper catalysts. A kind of buffer protects the catalysts against the hostile conditions encountered in fuel cells, which have been to date dismissed utilization. The scientists report in the current issue of NATURE Chemistry.