The company PolyFuel (California) has developed a conductive membrane based on a hydrocarbon polymer capable of leading to hydrogen fuel cells - designated as the future
the “clean” automobile - cheaper and more efficient. Proton exchange membranes are a key component of fuel cells. Currently, the material most used for their manufacture is a very expensive perfluorinated polymer called “Nafion”, developed by the American firm DuPont de Nemours (Delaware).
According to PolyFuel executives, one square meter of the new membrane would be half the cost and could generate a current of more than 7 kilowatts compared to 6,5 for the Nafion.
In addition, the system would operate at higher temperatures; a non-negligible advantage because dissipating the heat produced by fuel cells becomes less easy as the temperature difference with the ambient air is low. The Californian company says, however, that it has not yet reached the stage of the marketable product that it hopes for soon. Others are also interested in hydrocarbon membranes, notably the Japanese automaker Honda.
NYT 05 / 10 / 04 (Breakthrough for fuel cells membrane)