From: Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI)
Published August 28, 2017 03:37 PM

WPI Researchers Demonstrate New Membrane Technology That May Help Make Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles Viable

While cars powered by hydrogen fuel cells offer clear advantages over the electric vehicles that are growing in popularity (including their longer range, their lower overall environmental impact, and the fact that they can be refueled in minutes, versus hours of charging time), they have yet to take off with consumers. One reason is the high cost and complexity of producing, distributing, and storing the pure hydrogen needed to power them, which has hindered the roll-out of hydrogen refueling stations.

Engineers have long recognized the power—and limitless availability—of hydrogen, the most abundant element in the universe. Hydrogen occurs naturally in the environment, but it is almost always chemically bound to other elements—to oxygen in water (H2O), for example, or to carbon in methane (CH4). To obtain pure hydrogen, it must be separated from one of these molecules. Virtually all of the hydrogen produced in the United States is obtained from hydrocarbon fuels, primarily natural gas, through steam reforming, a multi-step process in which the hydrocarbons react with high-temperature steam in the presence of a catalyst to produce carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and molecular hydrogen (H2).

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