Scientists from Australia’s Monash University have made what one professor is calling the most important development in fuel cell technology in the last 20 years. The scientists have managed to redesign fuel cells, so that in the future, they will make hybrid cars more reliable and cheaper to build.
And the breakthrough component in their design comes from Goretex, a popular outdoor and sporting clothing brand.
Applied to the layer of breathable fabric that Monash University’s Dr Bjorn Winther-Jensen says has revolutionized the outdoor clothing industry, is a newly designed and tested air-electrode that acts as both the fuel cell electrode, and catalyst. The layer is applied at just 0.4 of a micron in thickness, which measures out to be about 100 times thinner than a human hair.
“The same way as waste vapour is drawn out of this material to make hikers more comfortable to less prone to hypothermia, so it is able to ‘breathe’ oxygen into our fuel cell and into contact with the conductive plastic,” Dr Winter-Jensen said.
“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,” said Monash University’s Professor Doug MacFarlane from the Australian Centre for Electromaterials Science (ACES).