Tuesday, September 01st, 2009 | Author:

In our continuing exploration of affordable, clean energy IDT Energy presents the fuel cell. fuel cells

This remarkable method of converting chemical energy into electricity are similar to batteries but with a difference. A battery uses chemicals that are internal to the battery, whereas fuel cells use chemicals that are external the cell.

At the Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists are working on the development of fuel cells which use hydrogen and oxygen to get electricity and water. The source of the hydrogen and oxygen is air, and the waste product is more than biodegradable, since it is water.

The system which is being worked on now uses a membrane and catalysts usually made from platinum which turn air into electricity and water.

“Of course, environmentally we love fuel cells because hydrogen plus oxygen makes water,” says Rod Borup, program manager for the Laboratory’s fuel cell program in MPA-11, the Sensors and Electrochemical Devices Group.

The scientists at the lab are in the midst of improving the various components of the system. They are exploring different ways of reducing the cost of the catalyst, getting better materials for the membranes, and getting a better understanding of what lowers the efficiency of the fuel cells.

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