The Associated Press is reporting that last Tuesday researchers at Volkswagen unveiled the first viable high-temperature fuel cell (HTFC) for passenger vehicles. In theory, the benefits of an HTFC over the more common low-temperature fuel cell would allow it to run more efficiently while demanding less from the environment.
Typically a low-temperature fuel cell runs at 176 degrees Fahrenheit whereas VW's high-temperature version can run at levels as high as 248. Because of this the HFTC doesn't need the complex, expensive cooling system required by the less tolerant LTFC. Also, the HFTC is lighter, more compact, more stable and cheaper than the LTFC. Juergen Leohold, head of Volkswagen's corporate research, went as far as to say, "we no longer give much chance to low-temperature fuel cells going into series production."

VW says the new fuel cell design could be used in passenger cars by 2020. I wonder if that'll give us enough time to clean our electricity grid and figure out how to make hydrogen in an environmentally friendly fashion.

[Source: Associated Press via International Herald Tribune]

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