New Hybrid Fuel Technology
The latest generation of hybrid cars will be blessed with revolutionary fuel cells developed by Monash University scientists that can make hybrid cars more reliable and cheaper to produce. This breakthrough was published on August 1, 2008 in the Science Journal. The key component in the latest design of these fuel cells is Goretex(R), which a specially-coated form of popular hi tech outdoor and sporting clothing material.
The team of scientists at the Monash University have designed and tested an air-electrode, where a fine layer – just 0.4 of a micron thick, or about 100 times thinner than a human hair – of highly conductive plastic was deposited on it; this fabric is breathable. The conductive plastic acts as both the fuel cell electrode and catalyst.
“The benefits for the motoring industry and for motorists are that the new design removes the need for platinum, which acts as the catalyst and is currently central to the manufacturing process,” Professor MacFarlane, a Monash University’s Professor from the Australian Centre for Electromaterials Science (ACES), said. He further said the discovery was probably the most important development in fuel cell technology in the last 20 years.
Monash University’s Dr Bjorn Winther-Jensen said just as Goretex(R) revolutionized the outdoors clothing industry, this new fuel design also holds a potential of permanently changing the way people buy and use hybrid cars.
The problem with the current hybrid cars technology is that it heavily depends on platinum components – the cost of the platinum components required for a small card with a 100kW electric engine is greater than the total cost of a conventional 100kW gasoline engine. Additionally the current annual production of platinum is only enough for around 3 million 100kW vehicles that is a lot less than the global production of vehicles. The new design eliminates the dependence of platinum.
“The important point to stress is that the team has come up with an alternative fuel cell design that is more economical, more easily sourced, outlasts platinum cells and is just as effective,” said Professor Maria Forsyth, Director of ACES at Monash.