Researchers at Harvard University have come up with a solid-oxide fuel cell (SOFC) that keeps going even after the hydrogen has run out. The thin-film SOFC uses Vanadium oxide on its anode to generate energy like a fuel cell then store energy like a battery.
According to the Harvard Gazette, “The new SOFC uses a bilayer of platinum and VOx for the anode, which allows the cell to continue operating without fuel for up to 14 times as long (three minutes, 30 seconds, at a current density of 0.2 mA/cm2). This early result is only a “proof of concept,” according to Ramanathan, and his team predicts that future improvements to the composition of the VOx-platinum anode will further extend the cell’s life span.
“During normal operation, the amount of power produced by the new device is comparable to that produced by a platinum-anode SOFC. Meanwhile, the special nanostructured VOx layer sets up various chemical reactions that continue after the hydrogen fuel has run out.”
According to one of the Harvard researchers, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) would be one of the largest beneficiaries of this new technology. Military UAVs could stay in the air longer after the fuel runs out giving them a chance to return safely from dangerous missions.