Efficiency is a large stumbling block if you're looking for a way to replace gasoline. It's pretty hard to better such an exceptional fuel, and several alternatives show promise but are nagged by inefficiencies or cost, and usually both. Nanotech to the rescue; it may soon be possible to produce your own hydrogen at home cheaply and easily, and NiMH batteries and fuel cells also stand to become less expensive and offer much better performance. With claims like that, QuantumSphere might well be selling fairy dust, but the Portland, Oregon-based company has developed a nanoparticle coating that may end up being the key to making alternative fuels actually viable.

QuantumSphere's catalytic nanoparticle coatings have 1,000 times the surface area of traditional materials, which means that more catalytic action can be housed in the same space. It's the the highly reactive nature of the coatings that allows cheap home electrolysis, also boding well for replacing precious metals like platinum in fuel cells with a coated piece of stainless steel. QuantumSphere's president Kevin Maloney claims that his company's technology makes electrolysers so efficient that they can supply hydrogen on demand while driving. The technology will roll out later this year in a battery that uses a coated cathode for a five-fold increase in energy density, which translates into a 320-percent power gain over alkaline cells. If things go QuantumSphere's way, we won't be paying $100,000 for the Tesla Roadster in a few years, and it will have an even better range than already promised.

[Source: Automotive Design Line]