Cubic zirconia used to make fuel cells run cooler, fool neighbors

A trio of researchers at UC Davis has developed a method of using home-shopping standby cubic zirconia to cool hydrogen fuel cells by nearly 90 percent. Fuel cells typically run between 1,500 and 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit, but by adding a little fake ice to the mix, Zuhair Munir, Umberto Anselmi-Tamburini and Sangtae Kim have managed to run their cell between just 122 and 212 degrees. The system works because conduction take places in zirconia via "protonic movement" as opposed to "ionic mobility," which sounds quite fancy. No word on when we'll see these hit the market, but the team has already gotten their patent application in order -- only time will tell if cubic zirconia will actually seem valuable in the future.

[Via Roland Piquepaille]