Everybody has heard the talks about climate change, pollution and the whole going green movement. One of the more touted alternative sources of clean fuel is the fuel cell. Although they promise to help the world break its addiction to fossil fuels, these devices are still too expensive and inefficient to be practically mass marketed.
As science advances, breakthroughs are made that promise to make the fuel cell a practical reality as a clean fuel alternative. One of the recent breakthroughs in late 2009 involved chemists at the University of Calgary. They have discovered a new material that allows polymer electrolyte (PEM) fuel cells to work at a higher temperature.
Fuel cells are devices that generate energy during the electrochemical conversion of hydrogen and oxygen into water.
Today’s PEM cells can only generate electricity from hydrogen at temperatures below 90 degree Celsius. The new material would allow these devices to operate at 150 degree Celsius. At this higher temperature, cheaper metals can be used in the electrochemical reaction. Also, the reaction would be faster at the higher temperature, increasing the efficiency of the PEM fuel cells.
This new material is significant because, as stated above, it would allow for the production of pem hydrogen generator that are cheaper and more inexpensive. In effect, discoveries such as this will be the driving force in producing the next generation of PEM fuel cells. The researchers have already filed a patent last year and they have published their findings in Nature Chemistry online in October 2009.
So don’t get too attached to that fossil fuel-burning gasoline car of yours. New technologies such as cheaper, more efficient PEM cells promise to help the world break its addiction to fossil fuels while providing a viable clean source of alternative energy.