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Published on August 8th, 2008 | by Ariel Schwartz

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Nanotech Research Could Remove Need For Hydrogen In Fuel Cells

August 8th, 2008 by  


fuel cell

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.

Photo Credit: Fuel Cells Work

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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.



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