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Fuel cell technology: more than just a dream

Advancements in fuel cell technology could make the dream car of the future a reality.

Energy

In the near future, cars powered by fossil fuels could be replaced by vehicles using fuel cell technology, which is positive news for the environment. Before this dream can be made a reality, however, significant advances in fuel cell technology are needed. The aptly named Dreamcar project set out to develop a related set of components required for the assembly of complete fuel cell car demonstrators. The target was the development of a complete 5 kW direct methanol fuel cell stack that can function at over 140\;C. Methanol fuel cells have the advantage of a relatively high power density. The aim of the project was to develop cell components, hybrid membranes and catalysts which can perform at a power density of 300\;mW/cm2. A 1.25\;kW module was designed, assembled and tested and the cell components were optimised. Following this, the components were selected and the module design was developed and advanced to a 5\;kW stack. The developed module gives way to a more thorough knowledge of the system in terms of operating conditions such as pressure, flow and temperature. This could help advance the progress for adopting fuel cells in cars sooner than we expect.

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