Ohio University engineers are leading one of the first comprehensive efforts to examine how fuel cell technology could pave the way for cleaner coal-fired power plants. Supported by a $4 million U.S. Department of Energy grant secured by the Ohio Congressional delegation, the project aims to find ways to use coal – the environmentally dirtiest but most abundant fossil fuel in the world -- to harness high-efficiency fuel cells.
Most government-sponsored energy research is focused on using natural gas to power fuel cells because it is the cleanest burning of all the fossil fuels. Ohio University researchers, however, say its critical to begin exploring ways to use coal as a catalyst for fuel cells because it is more abundant and less expensive than natural gas.
"We need to find ways to make coal work for us," said David Bayless, an associate professor of mechanical engineering in the Russ College of Engineering and Technology and director of the Ohio Coal Research Center. "After all, coal reserves are expected to last for at least the next 250 years, compared to 30 years for natural gas."
Andrea Gibson | EurekAlert!
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