This provides a more energy-efficient way to create electrical power for planes and cars.

Led by professors Su Ha and M Grant Norton at Washington State University's Voiland College of engineering and architecture, researchers have made coin-sized fuel cells to prove the concept and plan to scale it up.

"The results are a key step in the integration of fuel cell technology in aviation and the development of the more electric airplane," said Joe Breit, associate technical fellow at Boeing and a participating researcher in the project.

Fuel cells offer a clean and highly efficient way to convert chemical energy in fuels into electrical energy.

A solid-oxide fuel cell is similar to a battery in a way that it has an anode, cathode and electrolyte that creates electricity. But it uses fuel to create a continuous flow of electricity.

"The process could be approximately four times more efficient than a combustion engine because it is based on an electrochemical reaction," Ha noted.

The researchers also envision integrating their fuel cell with a battery to power auxiliary power units for cars in the near future. The findings were published in Energy Technology.


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