Fuel cells have long been hailed as a promising technology, but they face a major hurdle: the need for hydrogen, which is usually derived from oil and gas. Now a research team from the University of Virginia is trying to change that.
The team will divide its research into two parts. One part of the project will try to create a “solar cell” to gather energy from the sun, and the other part will attempt to use nano-scale structures to create a fuel cell that can transform renewable biofuels into electricity. Working at a nano level will make ion reactions quicker and more efficient than they would be otherwise, and it will be easier to control any problems that come up.
Ultimately, the goal is to create a fuel cell that could provide enough power for an entire town or city block.
Similar research into alternative methods of powering fuel cells is also being performed by other groups, including Innovatek and a team at Aberdeen University. But don’t hold your breath waiting for a fuel cell to power your house; we probably won’t see tangible results from these studies for many years.Original here