Posts Tagged ‘renewable fuels’

For the second time in a month, it’s very popular among my friends and co-workers that they know a BYU Cougar (the first, of course, after the football game against Oklahoma, exciting my Longhorn-lovin friends and officemates, but I digress…)

From the Edmunds Green Car blog:

Brigham Young University Scientist: Sugar + Weed Killer = Direct Carbohydrate Fuel Cell

BYU-Professor-Gerald-Watt.jpgResearchers at Brigham Young University claim to have developed a fuel cell that harvests electricity from glucose and other sugars known as carbohydrates using a common weed killer as a catalyst.

Lead researcher and BYU chemistry professor Gerald Watt (pictured) said in an article published in the August issue of the Journal of the Electrochemical Society that carbohydrates are very energy rich and that he and his colleagues sought a catalyst that would extract the electrons from the carbs and transfer them to an electrode.

Watt said he and his colleagues discovered a solution in the form of a cheap and abundant weed killer. He described the effectiveness of the herbicide as a boon to carbohydrate-based fuel cells.

By contrast, hydrogen-based fuel cells such as those developed by General Motors require costly platinum as a catalyst.

The study conducted experiments that yielded a 29 percent conversion rate, or the transfer of 7 of the 24 available electrons per glucose molecule, Watt reported.

“We showed you can get a lot more out of glucose than other people have done before,” said Dean Wheeler, who was part of the research team. “Now we’re trying to get the power density higher so the technology will be more commercially attractive.”

This isn’t the first time that a glucose-based fuel cell has been reported. In 2007, Japanese scientists announced they had invented a device that used sunlight to convert glucose into hydrogen to power a fuel cell.

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