A fuel cell is an innovative technology that functions by converting chemical energy through an electromechanical reaction into electrical energy. A colossal amount of funds has been invested in the research and development of innovative applications of the fuel cell, thus expanding its presence among various industries. Many government organizations and universities are focusing on developing and experimenting with projects of new technologies in the market. For instance, the NEF and NEDO have collaborated to work on various research projects on the fuel cell.
Currently, NEDO has 11 fuel cell projects in the pipeline to develop and validate the polymer electrolyte fuel cell technology for small-scale systems, SOFC for large-scale systems, hydrogen technology, and infrastructure development. In addition, the NREL has dedicated a section to hydrogen and fuel cell research to tackle challenges faced by fuel cell technologies. Their primary aim is to focus on projects associated with safety code, validation, hydrogen production, standard analysis, storage, and delivery of the fuel cell technology. NFCRC is another research institute established by the US DOE.
Few notable innovations in the fuel cell market are listed below:
- In a joint project with several Japanese companies and a Vietnamese university, researchers successfully created a fuel cell using methane gas produced from sludge, rice straw, and other waste to generate electricity. The scholars have been trying to create a plant that can generate electricity from methane gas produced from the sludge taken from shrimp cultivation ponds along with other waste, such as coconut pomace. Also, in a shrimp farm located in Ben Tre, Vietnam, solid oxide fuel cells from Elcogen were added to generate energy from biogas.
- In the United States, every year, approximately 6 billion pounds of chicken feathers are put out in waste. Researchers at the University of Delaware are working to turn those chicken feathers into fuel for hydrogen cars.
- Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology were successful in developing a new type of fuel cell. It is a hybrid & low-temperature type fuel cell that can right away produce electricity from biomass with help from a catalyst stimulated by thermal or solar energy. Such type of cell can use various biomass sources, including starch, lignin, cellulose, even switchgrass, waste from poultry processing, algae, powdered wood.
- At Kobe University’s Molecular Photo science Research Center, a group of researchers has developed a tactic that can help to considerably increase the quantity of hydrogen generated from water & sunlight via hematite photocatalysts.
- Chemists at Oxford University have successfully discovered a mushroom enzyme laccase’s property, enabling its usage as an effective catalyst on fuel cell electrodes as platinum.
- Bill Gates Foundation is funding research that is developing Urine-powered batteries capable of producing sufficient power for charging the cell phone. Urine will be passed into the battery cells in the battery through tubes, and with the help of microbial fuel cells, the micro-organisms will break the urine, and energy will be produced by it.
- Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies collaborated with Corgi International to develop the H2 It is a radio-controlled toy car that uses sunlight and water as the only source of its power. The car uses solar power to extract hydrogen from the water, which the fuel cell then converts to electricity. The car requires no batteries.
Technologies that are still at an experimental phase are expected to revolutionize the fuel cell market in terms of performance and cost-efficiency. Many start-ups and university spin-offs are also actively entering the market with disruptive technologies, claiming superior performance and low costs.