Researchers from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the U.S. have been working on ways to make hydrogen fuel cells a more viable energy source. While there can be no doubt that the technology is quite powerful, manufacturing fuel cells is not known for its affordability. The costs of manufacture translate into higher prices for consumers looking to buy fuel cell power systems. The high costs have not made fuel cells popular with many, but researcher may have found a way to reduce the price of fuel cells and boost their performance significantly.
Researchers have developed a new sponge-like synthetic material that has high hydrogen absorption capacities. The material is an effective method of storage, but it can also increase the lifespan of a fuel cell because it removes much of the stress chemical conversions put on the system. The material also fuel cells to store hydrogen in great quantities, which will ensure that fuel cells can operate for longer periods of time before needing to be refueled. This could be a major boon for the auto industry.
The research is being backed by the Department of Energy, which contributed $2.1 million to the effort. General Motors has also donated to the research, hoping that the technology developed will provide the automaker with a better way to make fuel cells and make hydrogen-powered vehicles more appealing to consumers. Researchers are still conducting studies on the material, but are hopeful of its uses wherever hydrogen energy takes root.