Friday, 09 December 2011 06:17

Fuel Cells in Cars, Pure Gasoline, Nice Combustion

When you watch ads you are aware that the promo hype is missing to tell you something. Hey, it wouldn't be a "hype" if telling all the blunt reality, mundane spots included. Did you know that the Chevy Volt resembles to an old rancid oiled diesel-electric locomotive? Sure, not at the hype and shiny hood, just down to the innards where energy is converted from a crude oil derivative, take gasoline, into electricity. The CO2 emitting burning process is less efficient than the one in the conventional Chevy. Without this gas-powered generator, you won't be able to take the Volt out for a long drive! 

But research and innovation always bring change, for real! "Now researchers at the University of Maryland have made a fuel cell that could provide a far more efficient alternative to a gasoline generator. Like all fuel cells, it generates electricity through a chemical reaction, rather than by burning fuel, and can be twice as efficient at generating electricity as a generator that uses combustion."

"The work is part of a larger U.S. Department of Energy effort, over the past decade, to make solid-oxide fuel cells practical. The first fruits of that effort likely won't be fuel cells in cars—so far, Wachsman has only made relatively small fuel cells, and significant engineering work remains to be done. The first applications of solid oxide fuels in vehicles may be on long-haul trucks with sleeper cabs." Source: technologyreview.com - Gasoline Fuel Cell Would Boost Electric Car Range

A fuel cell has the ability to extract more energy out of gasoline, diesel or natural gas, compared to the meager 25% efficiency of internal combustion engines. The functioning is also dependent of the purity factor of the used liquid fuel, which is less important in conventional engines. A higher temperature in exploitation will render a greater energy density, but this will add an extra toll on the materials casing the cell. This is why fuel cells aren't used to power vehicles, so far. 

And now follows the final political punchline: "Giving up its gasoline addiction by designing electric cars that need - gasoline."

 

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