by Ben Daviss
Fuel cells are tantalizing as a vehicle engine. They run on hydrogen taken out of the air and their only exhaust is water.
But the lingering problem has been getting the hydrogen: typically, an intricate chemical reaction is needed, making the process slower and more complicated, using more parts and power.
Now researchers at the Chinese Academy of Science and Tsinghua University have found a way to zap hydrogen out of the air instantly and continuously.
The scientists combined gallium, indium, and bismuth – all relatively plentiful metals – into an alloy. When the alloy comes into contact with an aluminum plate immersed in water, the contact pulls hydrogen from the water.
The hydrogen is fed into a proton exchange membrane fuel cell, which burns the hydrogen to generate electricity.
While the fuel cell could be mass-produced with relative ease, the developers say that engineering an infrastructure to reclaim and recycle the metals comprising the alloy will be key.
TRENDPOST: While battery-powered electric vehicles grab the headlines, work on fuel cells is making hydrogen-powered cars an increasingly competitive alternative. Technological improvements, such as this Chinese discovery, will be essential to attract continued investment of time and resources into fuel cell development.
by Ben Daviss