New Fuel Cell Technology

June 16th, 2014 | News, Uncategorized | No Comments

Emerging Technology: Fuel Cells

As you may or may not know, a fuel cell converts natural gas directly into electrical energy. What makes them so great is their efficiency, more so than a lackluster internal combustion engine found in your car. You may be thinking that these fuel cells must be complicated and out of reach for the general public. Don’t worry, they’re actually quiet simple!

Fuel Cell Operation

First, the fuel cells need to convert the chemical energy into thermal energy. After that process has been completed, the heat needs to be transformed into a mechanical force such that it can turn a generator, which in turn creates the electric power we are after. On its own a fuel cell (about the size of CD) is unable to create enough electricity to be useful. However, when multiple cells are placed together in a stack they are able to produce sufficient electrical power.

Real-Life Scenario Testing

Together with Vaillant, a heater manufacturer, IKTS has developed a small, safe and sturdy fuel cell system that is able to quickly generate electricity and heat in homes. The prototype cells are as compact as traditional gas heaters that, unlike the new fuel cells, only produce heat. A key design goal was to make the fuel cells easily mountable in any direction or location, making maintenance a breeze and also leaving the option to place them out of sight.

While the principle of the fuel cell has been known about for over 175 years, the discovery of the electric generator had pushed advances of the fuel cell away as the generator was much less complex and the technology was already readily available. Valliant is currently seeking additional funds to being production of their fuel cells for further research and testing.

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