Tag Archives: fuel cells

UCLA researchers develop lower-cost, more efficient nanostructure for fuel cells

Platinum-nickel-molybdenum compound could be used for eco-friendly automobiles and other clean-energy applications

A team led by researchers at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science has developed nanostructures made from a compound of three metals that increases the efficiency and durability of fuel cells while lowering the cost to produce them. Their solution addresses vexing problems that have stalled the adoption of this technology. (more…)

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How Did Life Arise? Fuel Cells May Have Answers

How life arose from the toxic and inhospitable environment of our planet billions of years ago remains a deep mystery. Researchers have simulated the conditions of an early Earth in test tubes, even fashioning some of life’s basic ingredients. But how those ingredients assembled into living cells, and how life was first able to generate energy, remain unknown.

A new study led by Laurie Barge of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., demonstrates a unique way to study the origins of life: fuel cells. (more…)

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Berkeley Lab Startup Brings Fuel Cells to the Developing World

Point Source Power’s cheap, rugged fuel cells can provide electricity where none exists.

In some parts of the developing world, people may live in homes without electricity or toilets or running water but yet they own cell phones. To charge those phones, they may have to walk for miles to reach a town charging station—and possibly even have to leave their phones overnight. Now a startup company spun off technology developed at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has created a simple, inexpensive way to provide electricity to the 2.5 billion people in the world who don’t get it reliably.

Point Source Power’s innovative device is based on a solid oxide fuel cell that is powered by burning charcoal, wood or other types of biomass—even cow dung—the types of fuel that many in the developing world use for cooking. The fuel cell sits in the fire and is attached to circuitry in a handle that is charged as the fuel cell heats up to temperatures of 700 to 800 degrees Celsius. The handle, which contains an LED bulb, can then be detached and used for lighting or to charge a phone. (more…)

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Pushing Boundaries

Engineers report research milestones in fuel cells, flexible composites

Faculty and students in the University of Delaware’s College of Engineering continue to blaze a trail of innovation, reporting recent research milestones in flexible composites and fuel cells.

Flexible composites

The Chou research group recently reported success in fabricating flexible composites based on carbon nanotube (CNT) fibers in the high impact factor journal, Advanced Functional Materials (AFM). A micrograph image illustrating the pattern of a buckled CNT fiber in the stretchable conductor was selected as the journal’s cover photo for the January 2013 issue. (more…)

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Berkeley Lab to Build Cost Model for Fuel Cells

*A $2-million award from DOE will help bring down the cost of next-generation fuel cells.*

Fuel cells seem like an ideal energy source—they’re clean, efficient, silent and don’t require transmission lines. The hitch? They can be costly. Now scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) hope to change that equation by building a sophisticated cost model that will take into account the total cost of ownership.

With a $2-million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, a team of scientists led by Eric Masanet will perform a detailed assessment of fuel cell design and manufacturing that takes into account both intrinsic and external benefits. The aim is to quantify not only traditional manufacturing costs but also benefits that may previously have been overlooked and may ultimately bring down the cost of fuel cells. (more…)

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Novel Nanowires Boost Fuel Cell Efficiency

Fuel cells have been touted as a cleaner solution to tomorrow’s energy needs, with potential applications in everything from cars to computers.

But one reason fuel cells aren’t already more widespread is their lack of endurance. Over time, the catalysts used even in today’s state-of-the-art fuels cells break down, inhibiting the chemical reaction that converts fuel into electricity. In addition, current technology relies on small particles coated with the catalyst; however, the particles’ limited surface area means only a fraction of the catalyst is available at any given time. (more…)

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