Manufacturing News from the Engineered Designer Perspective

Waterloo researchers seek cheaper fuel cells for electric cars

Researchers at several US and Canadian academic institutions, with key industrial partners, are collaborating in a quest to make a cheaper fuel cell for electric cars. If they succeed, the lead Canadian researcher says, there could be a million electric cars on the roads of North America by the end of this decade. The work is being led by Los Alamos National Laboratory, under the authority of the US Department of Energy. The Canadian partner in the project is the University of Waterloo in Ontario.

fuel-cell-General-motors-research-Waterloo-platinum-electric-car-EDIWeekly
The high cost of platinum, which is used as the catalyst in fuel cells, is a barrier to widespread adoption. Researchers at Waterloo university are searching for a viable nanotechnology alternative to platinum. General Motors is an industrial partner in the effort.

A major barrier to the widespread adoption of fuel cells in vehicles is the high cost, according to Professor Zhongwei Chen of the University of Waterloo. The cells typically use platinum as the catalytic agent, and that contributes about 40 per cent of the cost, Chen said. An average fuel cell for a car needs 30 grams of pure platinum, which will produce enough power to run the car for 150,000 kilometres. But the platinum costs about $4,000 at today’s prices.

“Platinum is so expensive, and is obviously a limited resource, we have to find a way to replace it if fuel cell cars are going to succeed,” said Chen.

The Waterloo researchers are working with nanotechnology to create “non-precious” alternatives to platinum at a “fraction” of the cost but with comparable durability. If they are successful, Chen says, it could help “pave the way” for the motor industry to adopt hydrogen fuel cells in a major way. A million new electric cars by the end of the decade could be a realistic outcome.

While fuel cell vehicles have the advantages of producing no greenhouse emissions and reducing dependence on fossil fuels, there is no fuel cell available today that can compete with conventional cars in terms of cost and durability. The US Department of Energy estimates that a platinum-based fuel cell would have to use four times less platinum than is currently used if they are to make a realistic alternative to the internal combustion engine. But Professor Chen and his group aim to eliminate the platinum altogether.

General Motors has been working on developing new fuel cell technology for several years. The company set up a special lab in 2007, with several hundred fuel cell engineers to work on the technology. GM is one of the industrial partners in the current research.

The Waterloo research effort has support through a $4 million grant from the US Department of Energy. Other members of the team, led by Los Alamos National Laboratory, are Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Rochester, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. IRD Fuel Cells and General Motors are industrial partners in the project.

 

Latest Stories

“I will destroy humans” says life-like robot: Elon Musk’s claim that artificial intelligence poses a threat to mankind may be justified?

“I will destroy humans” says life-like robot: Elon Musk’s claim that artificial intelligence poses a threat to mankind may be justified?

It may have been a glitch, but during a media interview, a “smart learning” robot named Sophia declared: “Okay, I will destroy humans.”     Although this was in response to an interview question from a journalist, it came across as a little jarringly frightening — rather than as the joke that might have been…

Smart winery? Environmental Health Monitoring Technology to boost plant production; pilot with Ontario winery with Bell in partnership with Huawei

Smart winery? Environmental Health Monitoring Technology to boost plant production; pilot with Ontario winery with Bell in partnership with Huawei

Bell announced a new partnership with Ontario-based BeWhere, an Internet of Things (IoT) solutions company, and China-based tech company Huawei, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment maker. Huawei worked with Bell to develop “an environmental monitoring solution to help improve the health and quality of plants at the vineyard.” Steve Lu, President of Huawei Canada said:…

$6.5 million Small Business Innovation Challenge to develop technologies in “Vehicle Occupancy Detection” and “Digital Identity”

$6.5 million Small Business Innovation Challenge to develop technologies in “Vehicle Occupancy Detection” and “Digital Identity”

Funded by the Ontario Government, the Small Business Innovation Challenge is helping companies develop new technologies in Vehicle Occupancy Detection — used to detect how many people are in an automobile for high occupancy toll roads (HOT) — and Digital Identity to help secure government services. To date, $6.5 million has been allocated, with $3.76…

Ontario launches Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network in Stratford to highlight privonce as the “go to” for Autonomous tech

Ontario launches Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network in Stratford to highlight privonce as the “go to” for Autonomous tech

Ontario is reinforcing its status as a go-to destination for developing automated vehicles by launching AVIN, the Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network, in Stratford. This unique demonstration zone is among the first of its kind in Canada and will allow researchers to hone the technology and test an AV in a wide range of everyday, real-life…

GO Transit may deploy hydrogen-power rather than electric; consults with Canadian fuel cell technology company that worked on world’s first hydrogen-powered train

GO Transit may deploy hydrogen-power rather than electric; consults with Canadian fuel cell technology company that worked on world’s first hydrogen-powered train

  Canadian hydrogen generation and fuel cell products developer Hydrogenics Corporation will formally undertake feasibility study for GO Transit to potentially deploy hydrogen-powered trains for Ontario. These trains have aleady proven successful in Europe, using technology developed in Canada at Hydrogenics. The Ontario Government announced the consultation yesterday, as part of its $13.5 billion RER…

100,000 watt laser firing 10,000 pulses per second would “deorbit” tons of dangerous space debris

100,000 watt laser firing 10,000 pulses per second would “deorbit” tons of dangerous space debris

The Extreme Univese Space Observatory telescope, originally built to detect cosmic rays, could be used to target space debris in orbit. According to scientists, a powerful laser can then be used to de-orbit space junk that endangers the International Space Station and other satelites. The laser system would be armed with a 100,000 wat ultraviolet…

Women will represent 50% of leadership positions at Oath (AOL-Yahoo merger) says CEO Tim Armstrong

Women will represent 50% of leadership positions at Oath (AOL-Yahoo merger) says CEO Tim Armstrong

In a move toward equality and inclusivity, Oath CEO Tim Armstrong has announced a mission to fill at least half of the company’s leadership positions with women by 2020. He had the opportunity to discuss this mission in a recent episode of CNN’s Boss Files with Poppy Harlow.     The CEO of Oath —…

Latest Update on KRACK (Key Reinstallation Attack): the flaw in WPA2 protocal for WIFI systems

Latest Update on KRACK (Key Reinstallation Attack): the flaw in WPA2 protocal for WIFI systems

Belgian researchers, Mathy Vanhoef and Frank Piessens — who recently issued warnings concerning a bug in the WPA2 protocol, a widely used system for securing Wi-Fi communications — have made tools available to “detect whether an implementaiton of the 4-way handshake… is vulnerable to key reinstallation attacks.” Standard protocols, such as “changing the password” will…

Bill Gates betting we can invent our way to a clean energy world

Bill Gates betting we can invent our way to a clean energy world

One of the world’s wealthiest businessmen and philanthropists hopes to serve as a catalyst in finding speedier solutions to the world’s climate change problems. Bill Gates of Microsoft has teamed with Mark Zuckerberg and a dozen or so other billionaires and high-profile institutions to launch the Breakthrough Energy Coalition. Gates has pledged $2 billion of…

A cloaking device possible? Stealth technology studies virtual invisibility through “irradiating with its own specific pattern”

A cloaking device possible? Stealth technology studies virtual invisibility through “irradiating with its own specific pattern”

Every kid has dreamed of being invisible at some point. Whether that stemmed from the desire to escape awkward encounters or dreams of being a spy and finding dirt on those around us, we have all been there. While true invisibility may not be possible, a recent study claims that we may be closer than…

1 2 3 73Next →

Other Popular News and Stories

  • DART Aerospace re-branding itself to reach wider markets
  • Miners struggling with higher costs, lower prices
  • Skilled labour shortage in world oil industry: report
  • Russian leasing company orders 42 CSeries jets from Bombardier
  • Clean energy expected to surge as pv costs drop
  • Canadian business, except energy, had profitable Q4: Statistics Canada
  • Bombardier nearly ready to flight test CSeries
  • RV industry has growing role in Canada's economy: study
  • Economy managed slight growth in Q4, but shrank in December
  • Canadian oil production up; producers turning to railways for shipment
  • Japex to buy into west coast LNG development
  • Pratt & Whitney Canada announces helicopter engine contracts
  • SPPCA's new landing gear facility opening in Mississauga
  • FTG Aerospace to supply avionics to Rockwell Collins
  • Manufacturing the sole industry showing job losses in February
  • GM investing $250 million at Ingersoll plant
  • Volkswagen to produce super-efficient hybrid
  • Canada keeping up pressure on US for Keystone XL approval
  • BC refinery close to financing deal
  • Bombardier holds update on CSeries aircraft