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Lung-inspired hydrogen fuel cell skimps on platinum, sees efficiency boost

Darren Murph

For as spectacular as hydrogen fuel cells are on paper, they haven't been able to replace combustion engines in vehicles. Or much of anything else, really. But thanks to Signe Kjelstrup at the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters in Oslo, the tried-and-true fuel cell is getting a serious boost. Kjelstrup's crew determined that by using less platinum in a cell, a substantial increase in efficiency and a significant decrease in cost could be achieved. The new design relies on an architecture that's "modeled on the bronchial structure of the lungs to supply hydrogen and oxygen gas to their respective electrodes," which is said to help "spread the gases more uniformly across the catalyst than current channel designs and provides a greater surface area so less platinum is needed." It's still early on in the discovery process, though, and there's certainly no solid word on when this will reach a point where widespread implementation is feasible. Seventh-generation Prius, perhaps?

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