Eco Tech: American engineers develop world’s smallest fuel cell
Eco Factor: World’s smallest fuel cell works for 30 hours.
The advent of lithium-ion battery technology worked as a foundation for a new era of portable electronics and gadgets. Now it’s time to lay another foundation stone that could serve the next-generation of gadgets and gizmos, which are small in size and large in technology. This era of nano-machines would depend on fuel-cell research which is currently in its infancy, but some chemical engineers in the US have already opened new doors with the development of the world’s smallest fuel cell.
The 9 cubic millimeter fuel cell has been developed by chemical engineers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and has four main modules – a water reservoir, a metal-hydride chamber, a thin membrane to work as a partition between the two and an assembly of electrodes. The thin membrane has several small holes which let water molecules reach the metal-hydride chamber in the form of water vapor. As vapor enters the chamber it reacts with metal-hydride to produce hydrogen. As this hydrogen depletes, a fresh stock of vapor enters the chamber and ensures continuous hydrogen generation. Presently the cell generates 0.7 volts and a current of 0.1 milliamps for about 30 hours.
The Dark Side:
The research is still in its very beginning and the cells can just power micro-machines with their present specifications. More research on the same technology can definitely power up much larger machines for a longer period of time.