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Uncategorized cell

Published on January 23rd, 2009 | by Ariel Schwartz

8

Chemical Engineers Build World's Smallest Fuel Cell

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January 23rd, 2009 by  

US chemical engineers have built the world’s smallest fuel cell, clocking in at only 9 cubic millimeters. While the hydrogen-fueled cell is currently a prototype, it could one day replace batteries in portable electronics.

Engineers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign created the cell using 4 components: a water reservoir, a chamber containing metal-hydride, a thin membrane separating the two, and an assembly of electrodes. The device’s water flow is conducted by surface tension— so it will work even if moved and rotated.

Small holes in the membrane let the water molecules reach the chamber as vapor. The vapor then reacts with the metal hydride to form hydrogen, which fills the chamber, pushes the membrane up, and blocks the flow of water.

As the hydrogen is depleted, more water enters the chamber to keep the reaction going.

The bite-sized cell currently generates 0.7 volts and a current of 0.1 milliamps for 30 hours before fuel runs out. That’s only enough power for microrobots and simple electronic systems, but future versions may be able to power cell phones.

Photo Credit: Saeed Moghaddam

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About the Author

was formerly the editor of CleanTechnica and is a senior editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine, and more. A graduate of Vassar College, she has previously worked in publishing, organic farming, documentary film, and newspaper journalism. Her interests include permaculture, hiking, skiing, music, relocalization, and cob (the building material). She currently resides in San Francisco, CA.



  • http://ramana153.blogspot.com ramana

    its gr8 to find tat chemical engineers have done somethin big out there !!!

  • http://ramana153.blogspot.com ramana

    its gr8 to find tat chemical engineers have done somethin big out there !!!

  • http://usd6.com usd6

    This is indeed a very good invention, I do not know whether or not recyclable?

  • http://usd6.com usd6

    This is indeed a very good invention, I do not know whether or not recyclable?

  • Justin

    That’s my alma mater. Way to go boys and girls

  • Justin

    That’s my alma mater. Way to go boys and girls

  • Uncle B

    Ground level research and development like this is absolutely necessary in battery/power storage technologies if we are ever to get to the point where storage of power in amounts considered practical to off-set the variabilities of solar and wind (perpetual) power are to be reached. The “Holy Grail” of batteries, perhaps a depleted uranium affair of futuristic proportions, or even a cold fusion complex for producing “free energy” may not arrive, but in the search in that direction, enough will be discovered to draw America out of the (GRD) great republican depression and stop foreign oil consumption forever! The other side of the coin, the amounts we feel necessary for comfortable lifestyles will be moderated and reduced dramatically by the GRD, as our lifestyles are reduced to third world survival schemes and unemployment and devaluation of the dollar run rampant over our dreams. Perhaps China, or India with their preponderance of high IQ students and endless but strictly controlled supplies of money will develop power storage methodologies of practical dimension while we suffer the GRD, and come to our rescue with a power storage system of practical dimensions!

  • Uncle B

    Ground level research and development like this is absolutely necessary in battery/power storage technologies if we are ever to get to the point where storage of power in amounts considered practical to off-set the variabilities of solar and wind (perpetual) power are to be reached. The “Holy Grail” of batteries, perhaps a depleted uranium affair of futuristic proportions, or even a cold fusion complex for producing “free energy” may not arrive, but in the search in that direction, enough will be discovered to draw America out of the (GRD) great republican depression and stop foreign oil consumption forever! The other side of the coin, the amounts we feel necessary for comfortable lifestyles will be moderated and reduced dramatically by the GRD, as our lifestyles are reduced to third world survival schemes and unemployment and devaluation of the dollar run rampant over our dreams. Perhaps China, or India with their preponderance of high IQ students and endless but strictly controlled supplies of money will develop power storage methodologies of practical dimension while we suffer the GRD, and come to our rescue with a power storage system of practical dimensions!

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