Revolutionary fuel cell membrane developed to purify polluted air

(ORDO NEWS) — US specialists have developed a new type of membrane for fuel cells. It has become a cheaper and more environmentally friendly alternative to traditional technology and cleans 99% of the carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air.

The method they developed and tested to capture CO2 from the air is bringing more efficient air filtration systems to the market for spacecraft or submarines.

Work on improving the hydroxide-dominated membrane (HEM) for fuel cells has been carried out by researchers at the University of Delaware for several years. Success was hindered by one serious drawback of HEM – such membranes are very sensitive to the presence of carbon dioxide in the air.

Turn a disadvantage into an advantage

In fact, due to the significant amount of CO2 in the air, the fuel cell could not “breathe”. Because of this, its efficiency dropped sharply by 20%. But a few years ago, researchers realized that the disadvantage can be turned into a benefit for cleaning the air of carbon dioxide.

As soon as we dug deeper, we realized that the fuel cells captured almost all the carbon dioxide that got into them, and did a very good job of separating it,
said researcher Brian Setzler.

The scientist noted that although such a total absorption of CO2 has a bad effect on the fuel cell, if this process is used in a separate device, a CO2 separation system can be obtained.

Tests have shown that this approach works well, with a 5-by-5-centimeter prototype showing 99% efficiency in capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. A device the size of a cola can can filter 10 liters of air per minute, capturing 98% of CO2.

Application of technology

A device suitable for use in cars would be the size of a large 1-gallon (3.78 liter) milk bottle, scientists estimate.

But this hydrogen-powered technology could be applied to other industries, such as cleaning the air of carbon dioxide in spacecraft or submarines, where a permanent filtration system or aviation is needed.


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