Princeton Uni engineers have identified how to control the flow of hydrogen gas inside a newly designed fuel cell to control its power output. Previously, controlling the hydrogen flow rate was considered impossible but Princeton's breakthrough was to create a system in which the fuel input itself changes the size of the reaction chamber, and therefore the power output. Other advances with the design include increased understanding of water management in fuel cells which has up until now been a major obstacle in the large-scale deployment of fuel cells in automobiles. The engineer's findings will be published in the February issue of the journal Chemical Engineering Science.

Conventional fuel cells are typically far more complicated than the Princeton design and feature networks of serpentine channels to combine the reactive hydrogen and oxygen gases, maintain the suitable humidity levels and remove water from the system. In such a system, water droplets can clog the narrow channels, leading to inefficient and irregular power production. The Princeton design mixes the gases via diffusion in a simple reaction chamber and relies on gravity to drain the water produced.

Expected initial applications of the design include lawn mowers, which are currently unregulated in regards to emissions, and other small machines.

[Source: Fuel Cell Works]

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