Scientists find new way to manufacture fuel cells with low cost

Credit: JACS Au (2023).

Researchers at Penn State University have made a groundbreaking discovery that could lead to more affordable and widely available fuel cells.

These fuel cells are a clean and powerful way to electrify heavy-duty vehicles, reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

Fuel cell electric vehicles work differently from regular battery-powered cars.

Instead of relying on lithium-ion batteries, they use a process called electrochemical reaction with hydrogen to generate electricity.

The best part is that the only byproduct of this process is pure water, making it a truly green technology.

The challenge with fuel cells has been the high cost of platinum-group metals (PGM) used in their production. But now, the research team has found a way to drastically reduce the amount of expensive PGM needed.

They accomplished this by adopting a process used in computer chip manufacturing, creating special supports with tiny patterns at the nanoscale level, and applying a thin layer of PGM.

This new method ensures that the fuel cells perform just as well as traditional ones while being much more durable and cost-effective.

Fuel cell electric vehicles are perfect for heavy-duty tasks like transporting goods and passengers over long distances.

Unlike regular battery-powered vehicles, they offer higher energy density, meaning they can store more energy in a limited space, resulting in longer driving ranges and more efficient energy storage.

Moreover, fuel cell vehicles use hydrogen as fuel and produce zero emissions or pollutants, making them incredibly eco-friendly.

If the hydrogen is produced using renewable energy, it’s called green hydrogen and has no carbon emissions.

Despite all these advantages, fuel cell vehicles haven’t become as popular as lithium-ion battery electric vehicles yet. One of the reasons is the limited availability of hydrogen refueling infrastructure.

However, with this new breakthrough, we could see a surge in the adoption of fuel cell technology.

The potential of this discovery doesn’t stop with vehicles; it can also be used for other processes involving water electrolysis to produce green hydrogen.

The researchers are now working to integrate this innovation into real fuel cell power plants and water electrolyzers, aiming to advance clean energy solutions even further.

With this exciting development, a greener and more powerful future for heavy-duty transportation might be just around the corner!

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Source: Pennsylvania State.