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Korean Student Develops Groundbreaking Fuel Cell

Posted June. 09, 2005 06:24,   


A Korean student studying in the U.S. announced his study, which has been highly evaluated as a breakthrough in commercializing portable fuel cells, in an internationally prominent academic journal.

Ahn Jeong-min (aged 33) a PhD candidate in the astronautics and space technology division of University of Southern California said on June 8, “He has developed a groundbreaking solid oxide fuel cell which can generate highly efficient electricity based on its own reaction under a joint-work project between USC and Northwestern University.”

This study was sponsored by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and introduced in the June 8 issue of “Nature,” the international weekly journal of science.

A fuel cell, a system that transforms chemical reaction energy such as hydrogen and oxygen directly into electronic energy, is environmental friendly while generating only water and electricity.

A solid oxide fuel cell uses hydrocarbons such as propane instead of hydrogen to produce electricity. This fuel cell looks like a one Korean won coin and generates about 0.7 volts of electricity. Experts evaluate that it has opened the door to the commercialization of portable fuel cells.

The research team simulated reactions between propane and oxygen by using a thin ruthenium board mixed with cerium oxide as a catalyst. What makes this fuel cell unique is that once it has started, its reactions can last at 500-600 centigrade degrees without any assistance from heating devices.

Ahn noted that he succeeded in operating a 1.5V MP3 player by linking two of these fuel cells, and plans to develop fuel cells usable for portable electric goods, such as cameras and cell phones. The technology related to this fuel cell was designated by the U.S. monthly magazine “Business 2.0” in 2003 as one of the six new technologies that could change the world.