According to researchers, a weak spot found in graphene, could benefit the fuel cell technology. As per a research at Britain’s Manchester University, graphene is not that impermeable as thought and will allow protons to easily pass through it.
The research was led by Andre Geim, who shared a Nobel Prize for the discovery of graphene and Professor Wu Hengan from the University of Science and Technology of China. Researchers suggest that graphene membranes could be created in future which could filter hydrogen gas directly out of the air to be used to generate electricity.
A co-researcher in Geim’s study, Marcelo Lozada-Hidalgo said that the results are really exciting and this opens a new area of graphene applications in clean energy harvesting and hydrogen-based technologies.
Graphene is 200 times stronger than steel and used in impermeable packaging and corrosion-proof coating, because of it is impermeablity to atoms of any gas or liquid.
A barrier is required in fuel cells and other hydrogen-based technologies, which permits only protons to pass through it. Geim and his researchers are expecting that hydrogen protons may pass through the graphene. This indicates that graphene could be used in fuel cells.
The study has been published in the journal Nature.
Currently fuel cells have a problem of leakage of fuels across their membranes and it decreases the cell’s efficiency. And the researchers are expecting graphene to solve this problem.
“When you know how it should work, it is a very simple setup. You put a hydrogen-containing gas on one side, apply small electric current and collect pure hydrogen on the other side. This hydrogen can then be burned in a fuel cell”, says Lozada-Hidalgo.
The graphene could be created in square meter sheets these days and soon it could be used in commercial fuel cells, said researcher Sheng Hu.