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by Mike Zazaian November 1, 2006 - 4:46pm, 2 Comments

Volkwagen's High-Temp Fuel Cell Makes Others Obsolete

Volkswageen unveiled a prototype today for a new, high-temperature fuel cell that promises to be cleaner, lighter, and more efficient than low temperature models.

The key innovation in the new fuel cell is a thinner, more durable membrane that allows higher temperatures to be achieved within a smaller package. The result is more powerful fuel cell that can be implemented in a wider array of vehicles, from compacts to pickups. Said Juergen Leohold, head of Volkswagen’s corporate research:

The low-temperature gas cell hardly can compare when it comes to mass production…[The high-temperature fuel cell] will make the overall system in the car lighter, more compact, stable and cheaper.

Current low-temperature fuel cell technologies operate at 176 degrees Fahrenheit, or 80 degrees Celsius. These lower temperature allowances are restrictive to the amount of energy that a fuel cell can produce, and require a larger cooling unit to operate. Exceeding these temperatures could also cause permanent damage to the low-temp cell.

The high-temperature fuel cell (HTFC), however, operates at 248 degrees Fahrenheit, or 120 degrees Celsius. A coating of phosphoric acid on the membrane facilitates higher energy production with a smaller cooling system. To prevent water in the fuel cell from dissolving the phosphoric acid researchers at the Volkswagen Technology Center in Isenbuettel lined the cell membrane with a special carbon fiber cloth.

Unfortunately for environmentally conscious motorists, Volkswagen isn’t planning to implement the high-temperature fuel cells in consumer vehicles until 2020. Until then we’ll all just have to carpool more and hope that the world doesn’t explode in the meantime.

Read the AP article
Via AutoblogGreen