CIDETEC is working on a project the aim of which is to carry out a direct assessment of the technology of fuel cells for “mini” applications which have between 1 and 10 watt power requirements – such as for mobile phone or PDA chargers or for remote signalling, etc. to this end, a series of technologies are being developed in order to obtain a house technology mini fuel cells, including the design and enhancement of EMAs (electrode-membrane assemblies), of structural elements (current collectors, shutting-off devices) and of the electronics for current enhancement (including the use of supercondensers for the supply of current peaks).
This work is currently following two lines of investigation, depending on which fuel is used. The first, using hydrogen mini fuel cells (stored in a small metal hydride cartridge), while the current focus is on the use of direct methanol (DMFC). To date it has been possible to assemble and test a 1.5W hydrogen mini fuel cell prototype which, combined with supercondensers, has been able to power a mobile phone enabling calls to be made and received.
Apart from the use of methanol as a fuel, other lines of investigation currently under way are the perfecting of a design of a new mini fuel cell the protection of which through taking out a patent is being processed; the use of new thin-layer EMAs which will provide greater yields with a significant reduction in the use of noble metals as electrocatalysts and, thus, reduce the cost of the cell.
Soledad Larrocha Redondo | Basque research
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