Fuel cells that use hydrogen to generate power offer significant promise for a more environmentally friendly, efficient source of energy, but significant challenges to their widespread use remain.
Taking inspiration from nature, a Nebraska research team led by Shudipto Dishari is designing polymers to find a solution for one of those challenges by making charge-bearing ions run faster across the cells.
Hydrogen-based fuel cells generate electricity through a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen that produces water as the only emission. During this process, the splitting of hydrogen not only produces electrons that give power, but also makes ions. The cell relies on electrolytes to carry these ions through the system to catalysts sitting on the electrode located at the opposite end of the cell.
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