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The Emergent Field of Hydrogen Power

2012 May 21
by andreakbass

Being that PEI is at the forefront of fabricating parts and components for renewable and alternative energies, we thought we’d take a look at the rapidly emergent field of fuel cells. Fuel cells are a proven, effective means of generating power for a host of different applications – from providing heat and electricity to buildings to providing generative power for automobiles.

Old car engine with modern fuel cell hybrid.

Old car engine with modern fuel cell technology.

The technology is a viable game-changer in terms of global energy consumption, and major players have long-since gotten onboard. Witness Masdar, the pioneering U.A.E. company that has sought to construct an entire section of the city of Abu Dhabi that emits 0% carbon (in addition to the company’s pouring huge sums of investment capital into Chinese fuel cell and water treatment technology). Or watch how Hyundai, the South Korean automotive juggernaut, has recently pledged to roll out 1,000 hydrogen-powered cars this year alone, with plans for many more down the road. Even America’s own gas-guzzling Department of Defense has gotten in on the act, pledging to have 25% of its assets reliant on renewable energy (including hydrogen fuel cells) by the year 2025.

While fuel cells have traditionally been expensive to manufacture on account of their being reliant on platinum (a rare, expensive metal indeed), even this barrier is being swept aside by emergent technology that makes fuel cells more cost-effective than ever. Recent experiments at the University of Connecticut have demonstrated a means of producing fuel cells at an astronomically cheaper price than before, a new process that uses 10 times less platinum catalyst than previously, and that creates little or no wastage.

At PEI, we are in the business of fabricating photo-chemically etched fuel cell plates for the fuel cell industry. Whether stainless steel, titanium, or some other such non-corrosive metal is involved in the process, chances are almost certain that we have expertise in working with such materials.

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