University of Maryland works to raise awareness of solid oxide fuel cells

University of Maryland works to raise awareness of solid oxide fuel cells

January 28, 2012 0 By Angie Bergenson

With hydrogen continuing to draw attention from consumers and businesses, the University of Maryland Energy Research Center is hoping to raise awareness of an alternative fuel cell system that could be an affordable alternative to hydrogen fuel cells.

Professor Eric Wachsman is spearheading the campaign and hopes that solid oxide fuel cells will soon become a source of energy for the country. Solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC) are variants of their hydrogen counterparts, but are more cost effective and durable than conventional fuel cell models.

Professor Wachsman believes that hydrogen, as a form of energy, is still decades away from being viable. SOFC’s, however, could be the answer to the country’s immediate energy concerns. The professor claims that SOFC’s are much more versatile than other types of fuel cells and have a higher fortitude against the chemical processes that corrode alternatives. Furthermore, these fuel cells can oxidize nearly any existing fuel into a sustainable energy product, such as hydrogen or biofuel.

The downside, of course, is that these fuel cells operate in excess of 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit.

The high operation temperatures take SOFC’s out of the running for use in the auto industry. The federal government recently released details on the 2012 fiscal year budget, which gives a great deal of money to the Department of Energy to research fuel cell technology. The government has not allotted any of this money to the research and development of solid oxide fuel cells.