PolyFuel (California) is said to have developed a conductive membrane based on a hydrocarbon polymer capable of leading to hydrogen fuel cells - designated as the future
of "clean" cars - cheaper and more efficient. Proton exchange membranes are a key component of fuel cells. Currently, the most used material 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.
Furthermore, the system would operate at higher temperatures; a non-negligible advantage since dissipating the heat produced by the fuel cells is all the less easy as the temperature difference with the ambient air is small. The Californian company, however, indicates that it has not yet reached the stage of the marketable product it hopes to soon. Others are also taking a close interest in hydrocarbon membranes, notably the Japanese car manufacturer Honda.
NYT 05 / 10 / 04 (Breakthrough for fuel cells membrane)