Jun 26, 2011

New Process Allows Fuel Cells To Run On Coal

GizMag - Lately we're hearing a lot about the green energy potential of fuel cells, particularly hydrogen fuel cells. Unfortunately, although various methods of hydrogen production are being developed, it still isn't as inexpensive or easily obtainable as fossil fuels such as coal. Scientists from the Georgia Institute of Technology, however, have recently taken a step towards combining the eco-friendliness of fuel cell technology with the practicality of fossil fuels - they've created a fuel cell that runs on coal gas.


For some time now, it has been possible to operate solid oxide fuel cells using hydrocarbons. Those cells typically conk out in as little as half an hour, however, because carbon deposits have formed on their anodes in a clogging process known as "coking."

The Georgia Tech researchers have devised a vapor-deposition technique for growing nanostructures from barium oxide nanoparticles on those anodes. By absorbing moisture, the structures start a water-based chemical reaction, that oxidizes carbon deposits as they form. Using this approach, the team have been able to run coal gas-powered fuel cells for up to 100 hours, with no signs of carbon deposits.

Read more at GizMag  also the research was recently published in the journal Nature Communications.