More efficient fuel cells might gain wider use in vehicles or as quiet, pollution-free, neighborhood electricity generating stations.
Researchers have been trying to increase the efficiency of solid oxide fuel cells by lowering the temperatures at which they run. More efficient fuel cells might gain wider use in vehicles or as quiet, pollution-free, neighborhood electricity generating stations. A serendipitous finding has resulted in a semiconducting material that could enable fuel cells to operate at temperatures two-thirds lower than current technology, scientists reported August 18 in Nature Communications.
In an attempt to create a metal oxide with the properties of metal, researchers at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory created a new form of the metal oxide. This particular strontium-chromium oxide performs as a semiconductor, or a material whose ability to conduct electricity can be turned on and off. It also allows oxygen to diffuse easily, a requirement for a solid oxide fuel cell. Best yet, it allows diffusion at a temperature that can lead to much more efficient fuel cells.
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Energy researchers need improved materials to make fuel cells more widely used. Solid oxide fuel cells require oxides capable of absorbing and transmitting negatively charged oxygen atoms at low temperature. Current materials require temperatures around 800 degrees Celsius (for reference, car engines run at about 200 degrees Celsius and steel melts around 1500).
The Latest on: Fuel Cells
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The Latest on: Fuel Cells
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