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.
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by Ben Daviss