tMonash University researchers have come up with a new Goretex fuel cell design that could make hybrid cars much cheaper and more reliable. The researchers have developed an air electrode conisisting of an extremely thin layer (0.4 of a micron) of highly conductive plastic is deposited on Gore-tex, the popular outdoor and sporting goods clothing material.
Dr. Winter-Jensen of Monash University says. “The same way as waste vapour is drawn out of this material to make hikers more comfortable to less prone to hypothermia, so it is able to ‘breathe’ oxygen into our fuel cell and into contact with the conductive plastic.” The new design removes the fuel cell’s need for platinum, which is the catalyst used in most fuel cells today. The main problem with platinum is that its very expensive and not enough of it is produced each year for fuel cells to become commonplace.
The new design has been tested continuously for up to 1500 hours using hydrogen as the fuel source. So far, testing has not come up with any sign of any degradation in either the material or the performance of fuel cell. This gives the new design another advantage over platinum fuel cells because with platinum, the small amounts of carbon monoxide that are produced by gasoline engines slowly poison and damage the fuel cell. The new Gore-tex fuel cells don’t seem to have the problem.