Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Gasoline-Powered Fuel Cell

PostedDecember 18, 2011

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Anchor Lede: Fuel cell vehicles promise energy efficiency and less pollution. But the focus has been on using hydrogen as the fuel, and so far there aren’t many places to fill up.

Randy Atkins: So why not use gasoline to power fuel cells? Because, until now, that’s only worked under very high temperatures. But Eric Wachsman, a University of Maryland engineer, has increased the performance of so-called solid oxide fuel cells to bring the temperature way down and…

Eric Wachsman: …that opens them up to running off of gasoline or diesel today or biofuels in the near-term or hydrogen in the future.

Randy Atkins: He says the cells, which turn gasoline’s chemical energy into electricity without burning, could provide back-up power for electric vehicles and replace the internal combustion engine.

Eric Wachsman: It’ll still run off of gasoline that you can get at any street corner, but now it’ll go three times farther and consume one-third the amount of gasoline and produce one-third of the amount of C-O-2 and produce no emissions.

Randy Atkins: With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.

Anchor Tag: The new fuel cell is still in development.