Research Energizes Fuel-Cell Potential

Research into new energy sources and component materials may expand potential fuel-cell applications, in some cases by shrinking them to sizes appropriate for laptop computers and small appliances. Investigators at St. Louis University are studying the use of alcohol to power fuel cells of postage-stamp proportions.

06/01/2003


Research into new energy sources and component materials may expand potential fuel-cell applications, in some cases by shrinking them to sizes appropriate for laptop computers and small appliances.

Investigators at St. Louis University are studying the use of alcohol to power fuel cells of postage-stamp proportions. Vodka, gin, white wine and flat beer have been used so far to successfully recharge the units. The units tap the energy released in an enzymatic reaction, an old approach given new life with the introduction of advanced materials. Scientists have coated the cells' electrodes with a special polymer, featuring pores that provide an environment more suitable to the enzymes than previous approaches. In their report to a March meeting of the American Chemical Society, researchers claimed the units could last up to a month on just a few drops of ethanol-based alcohol.

British manufacturer Generics Group, Ltd., is investigating a design that replaces traditional metal flow-field plates with a 1-micron-thick, perforated polymer membrane. The membrane is designed to selectively perform either anode or cathode functions. A Generics Group spokesperson claims the company's design could result in significant cost reductions and a super-slim product that could be produced on a printing press. A 50-watt portable demonstration model is now in development and is planned to be completed in the next 18 to 24 months.

A more conventional approach is now being implemented in King County, Washington, where officials broke ground in April for what they are calling the world's largest sewage-powered fuel-cell plant. The facility will produce up to one megawatt of electricity using methane gas generated at a wastewater treatment plant. Authorities say it equates to about $400,000 annually. The installation will be operated as a federally subsidized demonstration project for two years, to test high energy-conversion claims.





The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by Control Engineering subscribers. Vote now (if qualified)!
The System Integrator Giants program lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in CFE Media's Global System Integrator Database.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
This eGuide illustrates solutions, applications and benefits of machine vision systems.
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
HMI effectiveness; Distributed I/O; Engineers' Choice Award finalists; System Integrator advice; Inside Machines
Women in engineering; Engineering Leaders Under 40; PID benefits and drawbacks; Ladder logic; Cloud computing
Robotic integration and cloud connections; SCADA and cybersecurity; Motor efficiency standards; Open- and closed-loop control; Augmented reality
Programmable logic controllers (PLCs) represent the logic (decision) part of the control loop of sense, decide, and actuate. As we know, PLCs aren’t the only option for making decisions in a control loop, but they are likely why you’re here.
This digital report explains how motion control advances and solutions can help with machine control, automated control on assembly lines, integration of robotics and automation, and machine safety.
This article collection contains several articles on how advancements in vision system designs, computing power, algorithms, optics, and communications are making machine vision more cost effective than ever before.

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

Control room technology innovation; Practical approaches to corrosion protection; Pipeline regulator revises quality programs
Cloud, mobility, and remote operations; SCADA and contextual mobility; Custom UPS empowering a secure pipeline
Infrastructure for natural gas expansion; Artificial lift methods; Disruptive technology and fugitive gas emissions
Automation Engineer; Wood Group
System Integrator; Cross Integrated Systems Group
Jose S. Vasquez, Jr.
Fire & Life Safety Engineer; Technip USA Inc.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me