Yan Chen (Nuclear Science and Eng) is unleashing oxygen to enhance fuel cells

May 22, 2013

New research at MIT could dramatically improve the efficiency of fuel cells, which are considered a promising alternative to batteries for powering everything from electronic devices to cars and homes.

Fuel cells make electricity by combining hydrogen, or hydrocarbon fuels, with oxygen. But the most efficient types, called solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC), have drawbacks that have limited their usefulness — including operating temperatures above 700 degrees Celsius (roughly 1300 degrees Fahrenheit). Now, MIT researchers have unraveled the properties of a promising alternative material structure for a key component of these devices.

Oxygen reduction is one of two main reactions in a fuel cell, and the one that has limited their overall performance — so finding improved materials for that reaction could be a key advance for fuel cells, the researchers say. The new findings are published in the journal Advanced Energy Materials in a paper co-authored by graduate student Yan Chen, professors Harry Tuller and Bilge Yildiz, and three other researchers at MIT.

Continue reading the article on MIT Newsphoto courtesy of Bilge Yildiz

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