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Fuel Cell Technology Moves a Step Forward

UK company AFC Energy claims to have developed fuel cell technology that can “generate and export electricity to a grid as efficiently as traditional electrodes.”


AFC tested its alkaline-based technology in Germany recently and found that its efficiency matched that of traditional platinum-based electrodes that cost more. This high efficiency moves the company one step closer to full-scale production of its fuel cell technology.

AFC Energy managing director Ian Balchin says: “This successful testing of our fuel cell system using proprietary, lower-cost electrodes, demonstrates that AFC Energy has taken the next step in the development of a truly low-cost, commercially viable alkali fuel cell system.”

Why does this fuel cell technology transfer electricity so efficiently? This fuel cell is based on an electrolyte called Potassium Hydroxide (KOH) rather than solid polymer electrodes (used in traditional Polymer Electrolyte Membrane fuel cells). KOH allows Hydroxil-ions to move freely while also cooling the fuel cell. Solid polymer electrodes don’t allow such movement. As a result, they create more resistance and “a less efficient transfer of transient matter from anode to cathode” than KOH. This is how AFC Energy explains it.

Another benefit of the alkaline-based fuel cells is that they don’t need to be replaced as often as.

The two markets where AFC wants to bring its fuel cell technology are the “the chlor-alkali industry for use in stationary power generation” and the waste-to-energy market. In the longer term, the company is looking to provide fuel cell technology for large-scale multi-megawatt installations by the beginning of 2011.

Image Credit: Seryo via flickr under a Creative Commons license

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