USC Scientists Make Fuel Cell Breakthrough

A group of scientists at the University of Southern California (USC) have figured out a way to effectively, and more safely, use hydrogen as a fuel source, according to the University’s news site.  Hydrogen is easily convereted to electricity in a fuel cell and it is carbon free. The only problem is hydrogen can only be stored at high pressure. Until now.

The team of researchers have found a way to release hydrogen from chemical form so it can be stored as a stable solid. In addition, they have developed a catalyst system that releases enough hydrogen from its storage in ammonia borane to make it usable as a fuel source. What’s even more exciting is the system is stable in air and reusable.

fuel cell and hydrogen storage research, Department of Energy

image via Shutterstock

The discovery has far reaching possibilities for fuel cell applications, from motor-driven cycles to small aircrafts, according to USC scientists. The system is said to be the first to devise a resuable, air-stable ammonia borane dehydrogenation. In fact, the USC Stevens Institute for Innovation is working on a patent for the system.

Details of the research were published in the August 2011 edition of the Journal of the American Chemical Society. The research was funded by the Hydrocarbon Research Foundation and the National Science Foundation.

Kristy Hessman is a writer and native Oregonian who currently resides in California. Before starting her own company, she worked as a reporter covering business and politics for daily newspapers and The Associated Press.

    • Anonymous

      schools should not be allowed to file patents, as they without a doubt used public money both state and federal and therefore the work should be in the public domain.

      • Teapartyforlife

        Actually USC is a private college.

        • Truth counts

          Yes, USC is a private college, however the funding for this research project (and many others) comes from NSF and other federally funded agencies.u00a0

      • Teapartyforlife

        Actually USC is a private college.

      • Anonymous

        I disagree………..nnThe fact is that MOST ALL NEW SCIENCE IS DEVELOPED BY FEDERALLY FUNDED UNIVERSITY RESEARCHERS………nnUnfortunately,u00a0u00a0 what they CREATE AND DISCOVER,u00a0 AT PUBLIC EXPENSE,u00a0u00a0 IS OFTEN CO-OPTED,u00a0 AND STOLEN BY PRIVATE CORPORATIONS,u00a0 WHO FILE CORPORATE,u00a0 AND PERSONAL PATENTS ON THINGS CREATED BY OUR COLLEGES WITH PUBLIC FUNDING….nnI am happy that USC is filing for the patent,u00a0 so that any income derived could help support future research by USC,,,nnRATHER THAN HAVING SOME PRIVATE COMPANY STEAL,u00a0 AND PATENT SOMETHING THAT THEY DIDN’T CREATE…….

    • wspoisson

      It’s not a breakthrough unless you discount the works of N. Mohajeri, A. T-Raissi, K. Ramasamy, O. Adebiyi, and G. Bokermann(Florida Solar Energy Center) Research Period: June 2002 to December 2007u00a0 nSEEu00a0u00a0u00a0u00a0 http://www.fsec.ucf.edu/en/publications/pdf/FSEC-CR-1745-08/summaries.pdf

    • EBrickner

      Don’t let Monsanto buy the patent!

    • Any discussion of the utility of this type of process needs to take into account how the hydrogen will be produced. Hydrogen is not a natually noccuring element and requires great energy to produce from hydrocarbons or natural gas. A neat way of storing an uneconomical fuel is interestingnbut not relevant. USC should be able to understand and deal with basic chemical engineering thermodynamics.

      • Obamasux

        Hydrogen can be also be producedu00a0by electrolysis of water. Submerge the negative and positive ends from a DC power source into water with a little bit of salt, turn it on, and captivate the Hydrogen that bubbles from the negative wire/lead. Viola, instant Hydrogen. If the DC power source was provided by stored energy created by solar panels, wind, or thermoelectric or hydroelectric means, then energy input into the process could be greatly reduced.

    • Any discussion of the utility of this type of process needs to take into account how the hydrogen will be produced. Hydrogen is not a natually noccuring element and requires great energy to produce from hydrocarbons or natural gas. A neat way of storing an uneconomical fuel is interestingnbut not relevant. USC should be able to understand and deal with basic chemical engineering thermodynamics.

    • Jamal Ward

      nice!n