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A team of researchers has developed a new type of low-temperature fuel cell that directly converts biomass to electricity with assistance from a catalyst activated by solar or thermal energy.
Although low temperature fuel cells powered by methanol or hydrogen have been well studied, existing low temperature fuel cell technologies cannot directly use biomass as a fuel because of the lack of an effective catalyst system for polymeric materials.
The new hybrid cell, developed by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, can use a wide variety of biomass sources, including starch, cellulose, lignin- and even switchgrass, powdered wood, algae and waste from poultry processing.
The device could be used in small-scale units to provide electricity for developing nations, as well as for larger facilities to provide power where significant quantities of biomass are available.
The study was published in the journal Nature Communications.