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Fueling with a lightweight.

Fueling with a lightweight

Researchers at the Argonne (Ill.) National Laboratory have designed and built a fuel cell that has produced the highest electrical current density ever recorded for an all-solid fuel cell. According to Argonne, this new, lightweight energy source, if scaled up, could deliver twice the power and fuel economy supplied by an internal combustion engine of equal weight. "For the power it produces,' says Darrell C. Fee, who leads the team developing the cell, "it is so lightweight that it could even power airplanes someday.'

A fuel cell delivers energy by converting a fuel such as hydrogen, methane, gasoline or alcohol directly into electricity by way of chemical reactions that release electrons. The Argonne solid-oxide fuel cell owes its efficiency to a special honeycomb construction in which all of the cell's active parts--electrodes, electrolyte and conductor--consist of thin, ceramic pieces bonded together like corrugated cardboard (see photo). The result is a compact, self-supporting structure that can be stacked easily. It takes up less room than comparable fuel cells presently available or being developed.

So far, Argonne researchers have tested cells, a few inches across, that generate up to a watt of power. Several years of further research and development are needed to make the cell practical, says Fee.
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Title Annotation:new lightweight all-solid fuel cell
Publication:Science News
Date:Dec 13, 1986
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