Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A new approach to use hydrogen as an alternative fuel source has been discovered

08.10.2008
A team of scientists from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM) has designed a material with such high ion conductivity that it allows the use of hydrogen as a clean fuel. The research work has been published in the prestigious journal “Science”.

Fuel cells are the foundation of this technology which, if it becomes industrially viable, would represent the beginning of an energy revolution that would replace the current fossil fuel based system by a model based on hydrogen. This would be an energy source that is practically endless and since it only generates water as a combustion by-product, it is ecologically friendly.

The function of fuel cells is similar to that of batteries, but while batteries only store energy in a closed chemical system, fuel cells produce energy by combusting hydrogen.

To accomplish this, fuel cells require an electrolyte that permits the flow of ions between the electrodes. The problem that scientists currently face is that a temperature of up to 800 degrees Celsius is needed to achieve a high enough ionic conductivity. Therefore the challenge they must overcome is how to reduce the working temperature of this technology to an acceptable range.

Colossal ionic conductivity

Towards this end, a research group at the Complutense University has produced a material with a new structure by alternating layers of an ion conductive material that is currently used in fuel cells (Yttria-stabilized zirconia) with a dielectric material (Strontium titanate). The combination of these two materials with very diverse crystalline structures has produced a rare atomic disposition full of gaps that act as a path for the flow of ions. This results in a colossal ionic conductivity at the transition surface between the two materials.

The image of the molecular structure of this material has been obtained at the Oak Ridge national laboratory (USA) using a scanning transmission electron microscope with a resolution of less than 0,1 nanometres (the approximate size of an hydrogen atom). The researchers were very surprised to see in the images a perfectly structured growth at the atomic level, in spite of the very different structures of the materials. As a matter of fact, this result was absolutely unexpected according to the experience gathered from the analysis of this type of structures.

An even greater surprise was the high degree of ionic conductivity, measured at the Universidad Complutense in collaboration with the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. It is about a hundred million times higher than that of materials used at present for the fabrication of fuel cells. This characteristic could allow their use at room temperature, permitting extensive use of hydrogen as an alternative energy source.

Área de Cultura Científica | alfa
Further information:
http://www.ucm.es

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht How protons move through a fuel cell
22.06.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt

nachricht Fraunhofer IZFP acquires lucrative EU project for increasing nuclear power plant safety
21.06.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Zerstörungsfreie Prüfverfahren IZFP

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>