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U.S. Patent 7,816,044 (October 19, 2010), "Fuel Cell Using a Hydrogen Generation System," Paul M. Dentinger and Jeffrey A.W. Crowell (Sandia Corp., Livermore, California, USA).

A fuel cell converts chemical energy of a fuel directly into electrical energy in a continuous process. Although the nature of the reactants is not limited, the fuel cell reaction almost always involves the combination of hydrogen in some form with oxygen. Consequently, convenient and safe hydrogen generation and storage are required for the widespread use of fuel cells. Dentinger and Crowell have developed a system for storing and generating hydrogen in a fuel cell using beta particles from 63Ni to degrade linear polyethylene to release substantially pure hydrogen. The gas produced by beta particle reaction with linear polyethylene is more than 99% pure hydrogen. The generated hydrogen can be used in a hydrogen peroxide fuel cell. By separating the irradiated material from the active electrochemical material, the degradation of the electrical generating capacity with time is prevented. Because of the direct conversion of radioactive emission (beta particles) to hydrogen, the apparatus has no valves or other moving parts; additionally, it can be molded or formed into any shape. Neglecting hydrogen-depletion effects, the power will drop to about 17 muW/[cm.sup.3] over 13 years, releasing about 7500 J of electrical energy per [cm.sup.3], and most of the hydrogen available in the polyolefin will have been used.

Roger D. Corneliussen is Professor Emeritus of Materials Engineering, Drexel University, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. He is editor of Maro Polymer Alerts and the Maro Polymer website ( He has been active in SPE since 1962 and has served on the Board of the Philadelphia Section and as SPE Councilor. For Maro Patent Alerts, he reviews all U.S. Patents weekly, makes links to the polymer-related patents, and sends the links daily to subscribers. These patent abstracts are based on the weekly selection process. To sample Maro Patent Alerts, email a request to
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Title Annotation:industry PATENTS
Author:Corneliussen, Roger
Publication:Plastics Engineering
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2011
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