Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Fraunhofer fuel cells

As a follow-up to my recent entry, I just had a phone call with a press spokesperson from Fraunhofer ISE. The main researchers on their fuel cell project are currently in Hanover, but I hope to be able to report more soon.

It sounds like the research institute has merely put a "bioethanol" reformer onto a PEM fuel cell. There is nothing particularly new about this combination -- the only new thing would be if the system worked reliably. I also intentionally put the word "bioethanol" in quotation marks because ethanol is itself an organic substance, so adding the "bio" prefix is a marketing trick unless I am mistaken.

Nonetheless, I hope that Fraunhofer manages to come up with a working system, and I hope that the business community sees the potential of using the combination of fuel cells and battery systems to produce electric vehicles with longer ranges. The press spokesperson said that a number of companies are working on exactly such combinations, including bicycles powered with fuel cells -- that would make them a sort of electric moped.

Anyway, maybe I will know more if I can talk to a researcher next week.

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