Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles offer the environmental benefits of a zero-emission system with the convenience of quick refueling times. The vehicles mix hydrogen from its fuel cell with oxygen in the atmosphere to generate power while emitting water vapor as its only exhaust. The cells themselves, however, need to be hydrated in order to sustain performance — requiring the addition of bulky radiators and humidifiers under the hood.
Researchers from C.S.I.R.O. — Australia’s national science agency — and South Korea's Hanyang University recently developed a vehicle exterior that could address those issues. Their membrane includes tiny cracks — like the skin of a cactus — that widen during times of humidity and close in arid environments. The system retains the water generated by the fuel cell and eliminates the need for additional humidifiers— saving both space and energy. In hot and dry conditions, scientists said the membrane increased the efficiency of fuel cells by a factor of four.
SO, WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Could this membrane help hydrogen fuel cells gain wider acceptance? What other industries could be helped by similar water-saving technology?
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