Research at Michigan Tech has revealed a new type of fuel cell- one that significantly reduces the running temperatures, and can run on methane and other hydrocarbons.
Like batteries, fuel cells use an electrochemical process to produce energy, but they do not face the same issues as running out or needing to be recharged. Fuel cells however face issues such as cost, effective performance, and durability. Fuel cells are also typically powered by hydrogen separated from other compounds through an expensive process called reforming.
Professor Yun Hang Hu and two graduate students, Hanrui Su and Wei Zhang with the department of Materials Science and Engineering designed a fuel cell that does not need the reforming process. It can also run at significantly reduced temperatures, and is more effective.
It was estimated the fuel cell can reach up to 60% efficiency. For comparison, the usual combustion engine typically reaches between 30%-35% efficiency. These fuel cells will have a variety of uses, industrially, commercially, or otherwise.
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