Researchers Developed Plasma-treated Fuel Cell

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Researchers developed plasma-treated fuel cell, according to a study published on September 7, 2018.

This study was conducted by the researchers at the University of British Columbia. Fuel cells are a clean, renewable source of energy. However, keeping these fuel cells dry has been a challenge until now, as they produce water during the process of converting hydrogen and oxygen into electricity.

This study talks about the solution to this problem. The new method found by researchers is by pre-treating the electrode, which is a key component of fuel cells, with ionized oxygen gas, or plasma. Benjamin Zahiri, first author of the study, said, “Fuel cells need a small amount of moisture to work, but too much water blocks the flow of gases through the cell. Plasma treatment modifies the surface of the electrode so that excess water can sink down into the bottom layers and drain away, without drying out the cell.”

The surface of a fuel-cell electrode, which contains porous layers of carbon, was exposed to ionized oxygen gas for one minute. The treatment deposited varying amounts of oxygen-carrying molecules, which attract water, on the surface. The upper layers received the most molecules and the next layers received progressively fewer molecules. By creating this gradually decreasing ‘wettability’, the water is drawn down from the upper layers through to the bottom layers, from where it exits the cell.

Moreover, manufacturing of fuel cell components can also be done through the plasma treatment. Other applications of plasma treatment are being looked into by the researchers currently. Researchers say that plasma treatments can work on other porous materials used in energy storage and can also be integrated into caustic soda-based industries.

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