Cleaner Fuel Cells Being Developed In Moscow

By Jasper Nikki De La Cruz | Dec 30, 2015 09:30 PM EST

Scientists are closer to finding a way to create a much cleaner fuel resource. A research team has been developing ion-exchange synthetic membranes based on amphiphilic compounds that do convert energy from chemical reactions into power.

An international group of scientists comprising of Russians, French and German had been teaming up to come up with a process that can be potentially used in fuel cells and their separation and purification. The study was done by Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology's (MIPT) Laboratory of Functional Organic and Hybrid Materials.

Batteries produce energy using the reaction between oxidizing and reducing agents. When both these agents are all used up, there are no energy sources to convert. However, there is an accumulator that will store these electrical energy packets when an external source convert them to chemical energy and then released again. This is a reversal of process. Fuel cells can be used to replace internal combustion engines, such as those found in automobiles. However, a very complex infrastructure is needed for this to happen.

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This particular study is all about making fuel cells to be viable in more situations. The researchers have learned to form pores from certain molecules for membranes of a fuel cell. The opening is exactly the diameter required for the optimum functioning of a cell.

These molecules are named A-Na and Azo-Na. These substances are classified as "benzenesulfonates." These are wedge-shaped and can independently assemble themselves into a supramolecular structure. Largely depending on conditions prepared by the scientists, the molecules form discs, which in turn form columns. Inside these columns are ion channels.

Created in this method are polymers. These polymers are tested for selective permeability of ions. This will allow the scientists to identify which conditions of the synthesis of polymer membranes are best suited in making potential fuel cells.

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