Researchers at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences are making advances in fuel cell technology that could allow portable electronics to run on fuels like methane and the researchers don't think we'll have to wait long for methane-fueled laptops.
The research team is working on solid-oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) and have found ways to lower the operating temperature and lower the cost of materials, both major hurdles that have, so far, restricted SOFCs to lab use. The team developed a thin-film SOFC that uses densely-packed nano-scale ceramic films and does away with platinum electrodes. The small size and elimination of platinum both increases stability and lowers the cost of the fuel cell.
The team also has been able to demonstrate a methane-fueled SOFC operating at less than 500 degrees Celsius. Traditional SOFCs typically operate at 800 - 1000 degrees Celsius. The team says that 300 - 500 degrees Celsius is the "sweet spot" where the SOFCs could be used in portable electronics or transportation vehicles.
via Science Daily
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