(March 2004) Fujitsu Laboratories develops new material technology. The company has developed new fuel cell material technology which enables the use of 30 percent methanol as a fuel source as well as a prototytpe power unit that incorporates the technology. The technology comprises an aromatic hydrocarbon solid electrolyte material covered with a high density of highly active platinum-based nano-particle catalyst with methanol blocking properties.
(March 2004) California Institute of Technology builds new fuel cell that uses a solid acid-electrolyte which can use either hydrogen or methanol as a fuel. The new phosphate-based electrolyte material has possible advantages over the current polymer solid electrolytes; some advances are the ability to produce electricity at temperatures over 1000C and less chance of fuel leakage. To keep the material from dehydrating , the solid acid electrolyte must have enough water vapor pressure -approximately 10 percent relative humidity. Possibilities exist that some day, this technology would be used to power cars.
(Sept. 2003) US Fuel Cell Council (USFCC) releases details of its new “Testing Protocol” for composite bipolar plates. The protocol is one of the first open technical collaborations in the fuel cell industry. The “Testing Protocol for Through-Plane Electrical Conductivity of Composite Bipolar Plates” is used to measure the electrical performance of separator plates for the purpose of material evaluation. The testing methodology was developed by the USFCC’s Stack Materials & Components Working Group in response to concerns that data sheets for composite bipolar plate materials provided electrical conductivity data measured using one of many different methodologies. The methodology of the USFCC Protocol includes pressure conditions, specimen characteristics and preparation, electrical parameters and statistical analysis.
(August 2003) Nagoya Institute In Japan develops electrolyte membrane for fuel cells from glass-based material. The new electrolyte membrane can be made considerably cheaper than the current flurosis resin . The price could potentially fall to about one percent of the current level because of the simplicity of the glass-based membrane structure. The membrane is said to have stable power output across a wide temperature range. Testing must be conducted on the new electrolyte membrane for strength and develop production equipment. The new membrane will require at least two more years of development before hitting the market, according to Kyodo News, 07/25/03.