Business, Research and The FutureMarch 14, 2011
Researchers at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences lead by Sriram Ramanthan, have been working on developing new solid-oxide hydrogen fuel cells. According to Ramanthan, these types of fuel cells will be highly sought after in the years to come. The fuel cells work by oxidizing the fuel present within the system so that electrons can be generated. Chemical energy is produces in the oxidization, which can then be converted into electricity.
Fuel cells may be the wave of the future. More companies are beginning to make use of hydrogen energy in their efforts to go green and reduce their impact on the environment. The cost of producing these fuel cells, however, is causing a number of companies to shy away. Fuel cells use platinum and titanium, both extremely expensive materials. Researchers admit that, until more affordable fuel cells can be developed, hydrogen may not be a viable alternative to fossil-fuels for some years.
The challenge with the new solid-oxide fuel cells is the amount of heat they produce. The cells produce can produce temperatures of nearly 500 degrees, which is far greater than can be used for most conventional purposes.
Some initial studies suggest that using hydrogen with these new fuel cells is a costlier than using methane. However, methane is not capable of producing the same energy outpu
t of hydrogen. Researchers are still conducting tests to determine what would be the best option.