Japanese Research Team to Commercialize Magnesium Fuel Cell in One Year
A collaborative research team consisting of Tohoku University, the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Furukawa Battery Co., and Nihon Sozai announced on January 26, 2012, their success in developing a magnesium fuel cell. After evaluating the prototype's performance (size: 26 by 17 by 10 centimeters, capacity: 60 ampere-hours), the team will seek to commercialize the fuel cell as a stationary power source for domestic use and as a battery for electric vehicles within a year.
While a magnesium fuel cell theoretically has several times more electrical power than that of a lithium-ion rechargeable battery, commercialization has been lagging due to the properties of magnesium as a material, such as flammability and its solubility in electrolyte solution. These drawbacks have been significantly improved by a flame-resistant magnesium alloy (Mg-Al-Ca) developed by AIST. At preliminary tests the fuel cell has already achieved an energy density of 1.55 watt-hours per gram--70 percent the theoretical density.
Moreover, the magnesium fuel cell needs no or only a minute amount of platinum, which is costly and required in bulk as a catalyst for hydrogen fuel cells. Lithium is a rare metal and limited resource that is imported from abroad. Magnesium, on the other hand, is present in sea water in inexhaustible amounts. Technologies are well established for collecting magnesium from the sea and reducing it to metallic magnesium. Magnesium fuel cells thus have great potential to become an inexpensive emergency power source for households.
Posted: 2012/05/04 06:00:15 AM