A new type of fuel cell is more efficient and cheaper than current technology.
According to researchers from the University of Waterloo, new zero emission fuel cells they have developed could make the technology cost effective enough that it could replace gasoline engines in vehicles. The new fuel cell the researchers have developed can last at least 10 times longer than present technology.
This advancement in fuel cells could make them more economically practical.
If massed produced, the new type of fuel cell crated by the researchers could make them more economically practical for powering vehicles with electricity.
The researchers note that their fuel cells could be comparable to the cost of gas engines or be even cheaper.
“With our design approach, the cost could be comparable or even cheaper than gasoline engines,” said Xianguo Li, director of the Fuel Cell and Green Energy Lab at Waterloo, ScienceDaily reports.
“The future is very bright,“ Li notes. “This is clean energy that could boom.”
In theory, existing fuel cells could replace gas engines in hybrid vehicles as they can power generators to recharge batteries while hybrid vehicles are in operation. However, fuel cells have always been impractical because they are so expensive.
That said, the researchers solved this problem with a design that makes zero emission fuel cells more durable by delivering a continual amount of electricity. This means that the cells that generate electricity from the chemical reaction when hydrogen and oxygen mix to make water, can be less complex, allowing them to be much cheaper.
The researchers hope that the new zero emission fuel cells will one day replace internal combustion engines.
The University of Waterloo researchers hope that the introduction of fuel cells in hybrid vehicles will result in mass production and lower unit costs. If this should occur, it could pave the way for the total replacement of both batteries and gas engines by delivering an affordable, dependable, safe, and clean source of electrical energy.
“We have found a way to lower costs and still satisfy durability and performance expectations,” said Li. “We’re meeting economic targets while providing zero emissions for a transportation application.”
“This is a good first step, a transition to what could be the answer to the internal combustion engine and the enormous environmental harm it does,” Li added.
The work regarding their new type of zero emission fuel cells was published in the journal Applied Energy.