Microbial Fuel Cells Have Potential

Sandwich structure of a microbial fuel cell, © University of Rochester

The difference between microbial fuel cells and devices converting energy by purely chemical means is that bacteria and not artificial materials, such as polymer electrolyte membranes and ceramic oxide parts, control the reaction. Instead of a catalyst, microbes will feed on organic matter, for example, wastewater and lactic acid, to generate a voltage through metabolic activity.

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Storing Energy During Wastewater Treatment

The core processes of the methanol synthesis, © FiW

Biogas has, for a long time, been known as a renewable energy source. It powers not just stationary systems, that is, CHP plants, but also means of transportation, albeit in purified form. Another versatile energy carrier is hydrogen, especially considering its deployment as zero-emission storage. It can be stored and transported without major technical issues.

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The Heart That Beats in Every PEMFC

The technique of producing thin film has been replaced by applying a composite membrane

At the heart of every PEM fuel cell, there is a membrane electrode assembly. It has a considerable impact on the output and lifetime, as well as the cost, of a stack. It is of such import that it has sparked multiple efforts to research and develop new kinds of materials and manufacturing techniques.

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Shared Rules in the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Industry

IEC TC 105 fuel cell standards and working groups, © A- Dyck

Businesses need clearly defined rules to popularize new technologies among a wide variety of users. Because those in the rapidly growing market for fuel cell devices have seen limited success in standardization, several companies and institutions are now trying to create a shared set of recommendations.

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FuelCon Turns Japanese

In mid-August, the Horiba Group purchased FuelCon, a test station manufacturer founded in 2001 and based in Barleben, near Magdeburg. It is now part of Japanese subsidiary Horiba Automotive Test Systems, which – in its own words – is a leading supplier of equipment to test engines, drivelines, brake systems and exhausts. Robert Plank, the chief operations officer of Horiba Europe, said that the deal allowed for “a broader range of test and validation equipment to cover all kinds of vehicle powertrain technologies, from combustion engines to electric motors.

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Sustainable Economy

The task of politics is to create an environment in which society and the economy can thrive. That is, if there is consensus about which direction to take. In democracies, this means much to debate and argue about. In doing so, people often find a solution that many can get behind. What can be very irritating, however, is when a handful of politicians start ignoring consensus and do what they think is best over the objections of most citizens and almost all scientists.

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AVX Buys Kumatec

In mid-May, an AVX Corp. subsidiary, AVX Interconnect Europe, signed a EUR 12.5 million agreement to acquire Kumatec Sondermaschinenbau & Kunststoffverarbeitung, a German plastic components manufacturer based in Neuhaus-Schierschnitz, near Coburg. As a U.S. supplier of advanced electronic parts, interconnect solutions and sensor products, AVX bought Kumatec to benefit from the latter’s expertise in automation.

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Fuel Cells and Batteries to Replace Diesel

ELAAN LADOG, © Fraunhofer ISE

To improve quality of life, a growing number of local councils have set up zones for environmental protection and noise reduction and have discussed driving bans to clean up the air in cities and metropolitan areas. One consequence of their efforts has been a tightening of emission regulations regarding community vehicles and public equipment. In response, researchers conceived a project named ELAAN to build an electric engine that is powered by fuel cells and batteries.

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Fuel Cell Buses to Arrive in 2022 at the Earliest

A semi-integrated motor home based on the Concept Sprinter F-Cell, © Daimler

At first, Daimler announced that it wanted to use fuel cells in light commercial vehicles. However, a few days later, news broke that the automaker planned to offer buses equipped with the technology as well, provided tests in a reasonable amount of time between 2020 and 2022 are successful. The decision is exemplary of the latest trend in the hydrogen and fuel cell industry to refocus efforts on commercial transportation.

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