The hydrogen fuel cell versus battery electric vehicle (BEV) debate often sparks heated discussions, as long-time readers – and maybe some first-timers – can tell you. A new technology by Nordic Power Systems (NPS), in partnership with SAFCell Inc., could change all that. NPS is developing a reformer that converts the hydrocarbons in regular diesel (or biodiesel) into hydrogen, which is then used by the tolerant fuel cell made by SAFCell. NPS says the process is very efficient compared to regular combustion, so the resulting CO2 emissions are significantly lower. In addition, the fuel cell produces no diesel particulates, nitrous oxide (NOx) or carbon monoxide. In fact, it produces zero smoke, just like a conventional fuel cell.

The current prototype only produces 200 watts, but NPS is already working on a larger unit capable of 1,200 watts – still not enough to power an electric vehicle, but that should come in time. The technology is scalable, and the company plans to first market it in the defense industry before tackling the automotive world. NPS already has development agreements with the Royal Norwegian Armed Forces and Marshall Land Systems, of the UK, to supply these silent-running generators.

This technology would eliminate some of the downsides of the traditional fuel cell, potentially ending the debate that focuses on the problems with hydrogen storage and infrastructure. Of course, this would no longer make fuel cells a zero-emission solution, and the technology has not matured enough to get any idea of the overall miles per gallon we may be able to get, so it's possible this may just stir up the debate even more.

[Source: ScienceDaily]

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