Posted on 25 November 2011.
One of the most prominent hydrogen fuel cell researchers in the world is heading to the University of Delaware. Yushan Yan, a well known researcher that has unlocked some of the daunting secrets holding hydrogen back has been hired by the university to teach engineering. In preparation for Yan’s arrival next summer, the university has built a new $1.9 million, 6,500 square foot laboratory and office space where Yan will be conducting the majority of his research in the coming years.
Yan has been working to make fuel cells ready for the commercial market. Fuel cell technology has long been kept from commercialization due to its cost and the problems associated with storing hydrogen. Yan has developed some new technologies that have reduced the cost of fuel cells, making them more efficient overall. The University of Delaware is hoping that Yan will produce promising developments at his new laboratory that will bring fuel cells to a new level of acceptance.
Yan’s new lab will be staffed by nine early-career scientists and seven doctoral candidates, all working in the field of engineering and alternative energy. With his new team, Yan will work to commercialize fuel cell technology and help improve society by helping it move away from fossil-fuels and adopt sustainable, environmentally friendly fuels.
Posted in Featured News, Research, United States
Posted on 05 September 2011.
Hydrogen fuel is one of the most promising sustainable fuels currently available. The fuel has been gaining favor amongst companies, consumers and governments in recent years thanks to its efficiency and performance. There are glaring drawbacks to the fuel, however, that have kept it away from commercial incorporation. These problems are encompassed in fuel cells and storage methods. A team of scientists from the University of Southern California have developed a new method of storing hydrogen that can make it more accommodating for commercial use.
Because hydrogen gas is the most efficient form of the fuel, it must either be stored in high pressure or cryogenic tanks. These tanks must also be durable enough to withstand devastating events, especially if the fuel is to be used in transportation. Researchers may have found a solution to the problems of storage in converting hydrogen gas to a more stable chemical form, which can then be stored as a solid.
Storing hydrogen as a solid is a novel concept, one that scientists have only recently begun delving into. Solid state storage means that hydrogen can be stored safer than other, more conventional methods. The drawback, however, is that solid state storage tanks are much heavier than conventional storage tanks as solid hydrogen is heavier than the gaseous alternative. Despite this, however, researchers have succeeded in making a lightweight storage tank that can be used aboard vehicles.
Researchers will continue to test their storage methods in the hopes of solving the hydrogen storage problem once and for all.
Posted in Business, Featured News, Industry, Transportation, United States
Posted on 08 August 2011.
The need for new energy sources is becoming more apparent. With civil unrest gripping much of the Middle East and Africa, the price of oil has soared. This has driven many nations to seek out alternatives, such fuel cells. The level of fuel cell development varies from place to place, but in the U.S. one location stands out as the best place for development. Fuel Cells 2000, an organization that promotes hydrogen fuel and its associated technologies, has released a new report showing that Ohio is leading the charge toward hydrogen fuel.
The state has been investing in hydrogen technologies for several years now and is committed to fostering the growing hydrogen fuel industry. The state government has offered several alluring incentives to fuel cell manufacturers to come to the state and set up operations. The state has, so far, invested in 95 projects, accounting for more than $88 million, since the year 2002. Ohio boasts of a highly skilled workforce which specializes in fuel cell technology.
Progress toward hydrogen fuel in Ohio has not abated despite massive budget cuts coming from the federal government earlier in the year. Fuel Cells 2000 places Ohio as the top state for hydrogen development for this reason, showing that the future of hydrogen is still quite promising. Fuel Cells 2000’s report can be found at wwwfuelcells.org
Posted in Featured News, Financial, United States
Posted on 27 July 2011.
The Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) will be installing several hydrogen fuel cells units at their headquarters in Exton, Pennsylvania. The organization, well known for their technical works in the non-profit field, will be using the units as a back-up power solution. Fuel cells have been used in this way before and are becoming increasingly popular for this purpose. President and CEO of SCTE Mark Dzuban says that in using the fuel cells, the group wants to show large businesses that such technologies can be used in their daily operations.
The fuel cells are being supplied by CommScope, a hydrogen fuel cell manufacturer, and each cell will be able to provide more than 19.7 kilowatts of electricity per hour. The system is a hybrid of hydrogen and solar power. The fuel cells are fed electricity from solar arrays attached to the roof of the SCTE headquarters, which is used to generate hydrogen. The solar array allows funnels a portion of the electricity it generates to a series of batteries, which will store up to 20 hours of surplus electricity to be used in emergencies.
The system allows SCTE to continue operations for 5 days without receiving any power from local utilities companies. Dzuban notes that since the system was installed in late July, the SCTE headquarters experienced one power outage due to a lightning storm. The back-up fuel cells kicked in immediately, allowing operations to continue through the rest of the day.
Posted in Business, Environmental, Featured News, United States
Posted on 26 June 2011.
The government of the United Kingdom is taking aggressive steps to accelerate the introduction of hydrogen technologies into society. The government has initiated a new program whose purpose is to quicken the adoption of fuel cells throughout the country and make them available for everyday use, accessible to everyone. The program has more than £7.5 million ($12.1 million) in funding, most of which will be used to demonstrate the viability of hydrogen fuel in London.
There are several new developments happening in the world of hydrogen fuel that few are aware of. The initiative, dubbed the Technology Strategy Board, will seek to raise awareness of these developments by showcasing how such renewable technologies can be used to power essential operations that people rely on every day. A portion of the funding available to the project will also be used toward research and development of fuel cell technologies in the effort to stimulate the UK’s hydrogen market.
Greg Barker, Minister for Energy and Climate Change, believes that hydrogen is at the vanguard of a new energy revolution. Barker wants the UK to stand ready for the eventual, worldwide shift toward renewable energies.
The event in which these technologies will be displayed is scheduled for January of 2012. In the meantime, the Technology Strategy Board will be seeding competition amongst
the fuel cell engineering companies present in Europe, hoping to drive the price of fuel cells to new lows so that more people can afford them.
Posted in Featured News, Financial, Industry, International
Posted on 26 April 2011.
The European Union has had plans in place for some time to reduce the number of vehicles powered by oil on city streets. They have been ramping up their efforts, spurred forth by recent advances in hydrogen fuel cell technology, making alternative fuels a more viable options for commercial consumption. Along with the EU’s reinvigorated enthusiasm, the demand for green vehicles is soaring to new heights. Battery powered cars, championed by the Nissan Leaf, lead the charge, but fuel cell vehicles are not far behind.One of the primary drawbacks of hydrogen fuel is the lack of a supply network. There are precious few refueling stations situated all over the world, which is hard to believe when one considers that hydrogen is the most abundant element in the known universe. Without consumers being able to refuel their vehicles when needed, hydrogen powered cars are mostly earthbound.
However, a newly developed technology from Acta, and Italian developer of fuel cell technologies, may reduce the need for refueling stations. Scientists have developed a compact electrolyser that can produce and store highly compressed hydrogen from water. This is much in the same way as any conventional fuel cell, but is much smaller and does not rely on platinum to produce hydrogen.
Nelson Piquet, a legendary Formula One world champion, invited the company to put their technology to use in a joint effort in Brazil as a way to promote the use of alternative fuels.
Acta is also developing a similar product for the U.S. market that is expected to reduce the cost of hydrogen fuel cell production.
Posted in Featured News, Industry, International
Posted on 24 April 2011.
Hydrogen fuel cells are being used for more than just cars and buses. Researchers at the Oxford University in England have been developing a new fuel cell unit that can fit in a pocket. The fuel cell would be used to charge mobile devices as well as laptops and phones. While other companies have successfully manufactured portable fuel cells, researchers are developing a new hydrogen production method using formic acid.
Formic acid is common in nature. It is most present in the venom of ants and bees, but is used in a number of industries for its preservative properties. Researchers are interested in the acid because it can be stored as a liquid without the need of pressurization, making it easier to store in fuel cells.
Oxford scientists still have a long way to go before their fuel cells are ready for commercial testing. Researchers have already had success using a catalyst made of palladium atoms and silver particles which converts formic acid into hydrogen through a chemical reaction. They believe that this method removes the need for hydrogen to be stored in fuel cells themselves, giving them the ability to create the gas on demand.
This new technology stands to make hydrogen fuel cells more viable for commercial incorporation. As the world continues to look for alternatives to fossil-fuels, hydrogen fuel cells have become a popular solution.
Oxford researchers will continue testing their method, hoping to begin practical testing by 2012.
Posted in Featured News, Research, United States