German-US collaboration makes breakthrough in fuel cells

August 13, 2013 0 By John Max

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Fuel cells could soon be free from the constraints of platinum

A German-US collaboration has made a major breakthrough in the field of fuel cell technology this week. The collaboration is comprised of OH-Energy Germany, the University of Delaware, Fraunhofer ICT, and Leibniz Institute for Polymer Research. Together, these organizations have been experimenting with fuel cell technology, hoping to find a way for these energy systems to produce electrical power without having to rely on platinum. Platinum is a common component in hydrogen fuel cells and is part of the reason that these energy systems are so expensive.

Collaboration’s fuel cell delivers 616MW peak energy density

The collaboration has released information that shows the successful demonstration of a fuel cell that is capable of delivering 616 megawatts peak power density at 80 degrees centigrade. This shows that the collaboration is well on its way to developing a fuel cell that is capable of delivering 600 megawatts of power density. Moreover, the fuel cell that was demonstrated by the collaboration is entirely platinum-free, which makes it significantly less expensive than its conventional counterparts.

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Platinum-Free Fuel CellsCollaboration leverages resources from world’s top fuel cell markets

The collaboration has been focused on developing platinum-free fuel cells for some time, but also intends to leverage the resources of the two largest fuel cell marketers in the world — Germany and the U.S. — in order to make these energy systems more commercially viable. The collaboration aims to develop fuel cells that are not only capable of delivering high energy density, but fuel cells that are also attractive to consumers and business around the world.

Fuel cells still face significant challenges beyond cost

Hydrogen fuel cells are becoming more popular. These energy systems still have many challenges to overcome, however, one of the most significant of which has to do with the price of fuel cells themselves. The high cost of these energy systems often prohibits their adoption and is due to their use of platinum. If platinum was removed from the equation, fuel cells would still have to contend with issues concerning efficiency and marketability.