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The Global Phenomenon of Fuel Cell Technology

2012 April 30
by andreakbass

Being that PEI is at the forefront of fabricating parts and components for multiple 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.

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 Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cells have traditionally been expensive to manufacture on account of their being reliant on expensive catalysts like platinum (a rare, expensive metal indeed), even this barrier is being swept aside by emergent technologies like RSDT (reactive spray deposition technology) that makes fuel cells more cost-effective than ever by shooting the small catalyst particles out in the form of a gas flame which then instantly cools into carefully controlled atom-sized solids for adhesion to the fuel cell membrane.  Recent experiments at the University of Connecticut under Professor Radenka Maric have demonstrated this break through process as a means to produce fuel cells at significantly cheaper prices than before by using up to 10 times less platinum catalyst with little or no waste.

At PEI, we are in the business of fabricating photo-chemically etched fuel cell plates for the fuel cell industry. Whatever the non-corrosive metal that is involved in the process (e.g. stainless steel, titanium, etc.), the odds are that we can be of service.  PEI continues to play a vital role in the successful development of a whole new way of powering a cleaner world.

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