New material may make fuel cells cheaper

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London, Oct 19 (ANI): Fuel cells could soon be cheaper thanks to a new material discovered by researchers at the University of Calgary.

U of C chemists Jeff Hurd and George Shimizu have discovered a new material that allows a PEM fuel cell, known as a polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell, to work at a higher temperature.

This discovery is extremely important in terms of increasing the efficiency and decreasing the cost of PEM fuel cells, touted as a method to decrease fossil fuel use.

George Shimizu and Jeff Hurd and their team have discovered a new material allowing for polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells to work at a higher temperature.

"This research will alter the way researchers have to this point perceived candidate materials for fuel cell applications," said Shimizu a professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Calgary.

A fuel cell is an electrochemical energy conversion device, which converts the chemicals hydrogen and oxygen into water and electrical energy.

Water usually carries the ions (protons) in a hydrogen fuel cell but this research uses higher boiling molecules trapped in a molecular scaffolding.

Currently, PEM fuel cells can produce energy from hydrogen below 90 °C, just under the boiling point of water.

With Shimizu's material, energy can be produced at a higher temperature, up to 150 °C.

This could ultimately make the fuel cell cheaper to produce because at a higher temperature less expensive metals can be used to convert hydrogen into energy.

Currently, platinum is used which is extremely expensive. Also, reactions at a higher temperature would be faster thus increasing efficiency.

"Ours is an entirely new approach that strikes a balance between having a regular molecular structure and mobile components all while showing genuine promise of application," said co-author Hurd, a PhD candidate studying chemistry at the U of C.

The research paper has just been published in Nature Chemistry online. (ANI)

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