Groundbreaking device transforms water into clean fuel cell power

Groundbreaking device transforms water into clean fuel cell power

December 26, 2018 0 By Erin Kilgore

Stanford University engineers have designed a device based on how human lungs function.

Engineers at Stanford University have designed a lung-like device that can generate clean fuel cell power using a process that is similar to breathing in and out.

The new fuel cell technology is one hundred times thinner than a human hair.

The gadget splits water into hydrogen and oxygen, which can be utilized for clean fuel cell power. The device, which is one hundred times thinner than a human hair, is basically a pouch created out of a thick plastic film. Miniscule water-repelling pores cover the outside of the pouch. Gold and platinum nanoparticles line the interior to create the necessary chemical reactions.

When the pouch is placed in water and voltage is applied, the researchers were able to compel the device to produce energy at an efficiently 32% higher than if they had laid the film flat. The reason, according to the researchers, is that the lung-like shape outperforms other fuel cell designs in regard to minimizing bubbles. Bubbles can form during the energy-generating process and can negatively impact the efficiency of this process.

Clean fuel cell power results from hydrogen and oxygen passing through the conductive metals on the device`s interior.

More specifically, the hydrogen and oxygen gases split from the water when voltage is applied to the device when it is submerged in water. These gases are transported through the very thin alveolus-like membrane, which enables the oxygen and hydrogen to move through freely.

This is very similar process to what happens when we breathe. When we breathe, air passes through the tiny, passage-like bronchioles of the lungs until it reaches the alveoli. Oxygen must then pass into the bloodstream without spreading out, as this would result in the formation of harmful bubbles.

“Clean energy technologies have demonstrated the capability of fast gas reactant delivery to the reaction interface, but the reverse pathway – efficient gas product evolution from the catalyst/electrolyte interface- remains challenging,’ said Professor Jun Li, the first author of the study, reported the Daily Mail.

clean fuel cell power - image of lungsThe researchers have said that the lung-inspired design is in only the early phases of development and still requires improvement before it would be ready for commercial use.

The researchers’ complete findings of their clean fuel cell power study was published in the journal Joule.

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