Friday, August 8, 2008

New technology for better fuel cells

While we're all talking about rising energy costs and crude oil prices, there are many researchers burning the midnight oil to better alternate energy technology. In the automobile industry, fuel cell technology is not something new. But the efficiency has always been an issue.

Current fuel cell technology is based on solid-oxide fuel cells. Spanish researchers have claimed that fuel cell efficiency can be boosted by superlattice electrolyte technology and can lower costs as well. It is expected to achieve almost 100 million times (yes you read that right) greater ionic conductivity than conventional fuel cells.

Delphi Automotive Systems, BMW and Rolls-Royce have all announced development programs for solid-oxide fuel cells. However, fuel cells based on the new superlattice electrolyte are being touted as far more efficient and cheaper for use in automobiles.

"The Spanish researchers could measure the ionic conductivity of their superlattice material, but they couldn't explain it," said Maria Varela of Oak Ridge's materials science and technology division. "Our direct images show the crystal structure that accounts for the material's conductivity. We can actually see the strained, yet ordered, interface structure and how it opens up much wider pathway for the ions.

Let's hope that these advances in fuel cell technology will usher in a new motoring era for a cleaner and greener environment.

[Via eetimesasia]