Harvard researchers develop SOFC that can produce electricity without hydrogen

Harvard researchers develop SOFC that can produce electricity without hydrogen

July 2, 2012 0 By Angie Bergenson

Fuel Cells

SOFC capable of generating electricity even when hydrogen fuel runs out

Engineers and materials scientists from Harvard University have developed a solid-oxide fuel cell (SOFC) that can continue generating electricity even when it has exhausted its supply of hydrogen fuel. Such an accomplishment could hold major implications for the world of clean energy. Fuel cells have become a popular energy system around the world, but are often criticized concerning their efficiency and performance. A fuel cell that is capable of generating and storing electricity for prolonged periods of time, even without access to hydrogen, could be capable of overcoming the challenges facing most conventional fuel cells.

SOFCs popular in the industrial world due to lower cost and high energy production

An SOFC is a type of hydrogen fuel cell that uses solid oxide materials as an electrolyte. These variants are often use for industrial purposes and operate at higher temperatures than their counterparts. An SOFC is a popular option as an energy system due to the fact that they do not require a platinum catalyst in order to generate electricity. This leads to lower costs, which is often a serious concern for those looking to adopt alternative energy.

Fuel cell capable of generating and storing electricity

Harvard researchers have developed an SOFC that is capable of generating and storing electrochemical energy. This is accomplished through the use of vanadium oxide, which acts as a multifunctional material on the anode side of the SOFC. This material allows the fuel cell to generate and store electricity. The stored electricity can then be used by the fuel cell to generate more electricity for a short period of time.

Laborious research and development required before fuel cell can be considered viable

Researchers note that the fuel cell could have a wide range of applications. Its ability to continue producing electricity even after losing access to a fuel source could find a home in numerous industries. Like other SOFC energy systems, the Harvard fuel cell could be used for various industrial purposes or even become a primary energy system for data centers around the country. Further research and development is required before the SOFC can be considered viable, however.

 

Related article(s) and resources:

http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2012/06/fuel-cell-keeps-going-after-hydrogen-runs-out/