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Building Durability, Affordability in Fuel Cells.

The adage "fuel cell-powered vehicles are the future, and always will be" remains largely true. The costs of the zero- emission powertrain, coupled with the relatively slow rollout of hydrogen fuel infrastructure has stunted the industry, while electric vehicles have taken off by comparison.

University of Waterloo (uwaterloo.ca) researchers report they have developed a new fuel cell that lasts at least 10 times longer than current technology. That progress could make it cheap enough to replace traditional gasoline engines, they calculate.

"We have found a way to lower costs and still satisfy durability and performance expectations," says Xianguo Li, director of the Fuel Cell and Green Energy Lab at Waterloo. "We're meeting economic targets while providing zero emissions for a transportation application."

Researchers say they have upped durability by tweaking design; specifically delivering a constant amount of energy, instead of fluctuating the current. They hope the introduction of fuel cells, first in plug-in hybrid vehicles, could make the math work for mass production and economies of scale for full hydrogen-powered cars. That move could pave the way for the replacement of both battery-powered and gas engines, researchers say.

"This is a good first step, a transition to what could be the answer to the internal combustion engine and the enormous environmental harm it does," Li says.

A paper on their work appears in the May edition of the journal Applied Energy.

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Title Annotation:GEAR: TECHWATCH
Publication:Automotive Design & Production
Date:Jul 1, 2019
Words:232
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