New partnership aims to improve hydrogen fuel cells by offering a new perspective

November 1, 2013 0 By John Max
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Hydrogen fuel cells could be improved by looking inside of them

Hydrogen fuel cells are powerful energy systems that have begun to attract a great deal of attention. These energy systems have been used in several industrial fields for several years, offering an alternative to more conventional systems that produce harmful emissions. Fuel cells are beginning to break into new industries, such as the auto industry, because of their ability to produce a large amount of electrical power without also producing emissions. These energy systems are complex, however, so much so that even those that manufacture them could be missing out on ways to optimize fuel cells.

New scanners to offer a powerful view of fuel cell technology

Researchers from the Simon Fraser University have developed new scanners called Nano X-Ray Computed Tomography, which are designed to provide a clear view of the inside of a hydrogen fuel cell. These scanners will be used by Ballard Power Systems, a leading developer of fuel cells, over the next four years. The scanners are expected to help Ballard better understand the capabilities of hydrogen fuel cells by getting a better view of how they work.

Hydrogen Fuel Cells PartnershipFuel cells are not a mystery

Fuel cells are not new technology, having first been developed in 1838. As such, how these energy systems work is not necessarily a mystery. Companies like Ballard are well versed in how fuel cells produce electrical power and how to develop these energy systems so they can operate at maximum capacity. Once a fuel cell is ready to produce electricity, however, looking inside of one of these energy systems is impossible. Being able to examine a fuel cell while it is operating could help shed some light on how to improve them through the use of alternative materials or by tweaking the chemical processes that they utilize.

Other projects focus on improving hydrogen fuel cells as well

The partnership between the Simon Fraser University and Ballard Power Systems is one of 10 such partnerships that have taken root in Canada. These partnerships have collectively received more than $52 million in funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. The other partnerships have a goal of improving the performance of hydrogen fuel cells while also reducing their costs.