Coal Fuel Cell
UQ Expert's Invention Scores a Clean
August 19, 2009
A University of Queensland scientist said yesterday he had
successfully tested technology that delivers twice the power from
coal while minimising greenhouse gas emissions.
The exciting breakthrough, which could provide a billion-dollar
windfall for the state, may revolutionise the way the world uses
coal, a university spokesman said.
Professor John Zhu, of the school of chemical engineering, created
a series of direct carbon fuel cells (DCFC) in which burning coal
generates highly energy-efficient electricity.
''The very high-energy efficiency of the new technology will
effectively halve the amount of coal required to create
electricity,'' he said.
''When applied, it will provide industry with very significant
cost and energy savings, which could then be passed on to the
consumer. In addition to saving cost and energy, the direct carbon
fuel cells will also provide clean power.''
Dr Zhu, 41, a father of three girls, said he worked in a ''hot and
dirty'' steel factory in Hubei provence in central China while
''I have always wanted to do something for a cleaner environment.
Now I'm feeling very positive,'' he said.
Dr Zhu, the son of a primary school teacher, said traditional
power stations, which burnt coal to heat water to make steam to
power turbines, were outmoded. He said his process used a coal and
air mix to produce electrons inside special carbon fuel cells.
He said scientists in California were working on a similar
process, but he believed he and his team at the university had
beaten them to the punch.
He said he expected the fuel cells would enable the byproduct of
coal-fired power - the harmful greenhouse gas carbon dioxide - to
be trapped and stored easily and safely.
''One of the major challenges for coal-fired power is reducing its
impact on the environment by developing ways to separate carbon
dioxide from other gases produced in the power generation process,
and ensuring it is not released into the atmosphere,'' he said.
''The DCFC produces pure carbon dioxide as a byproduct, making it
much easier to manage."
He said the next stage in the development would involve consulting
with the energy sector and securing industry and government
funding to ''scale up'' the fuel cell technology. This could take
Professor Graham Schaffer, dean of the university's Faculty of
Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology, said the new
fuel cell technology was one of a number of clean energy
technologies being developed at the university.
''Partnerships with industry and government have enabled our
researchers to make significant progress towards these new
technologies,'' he said.
Direct carbon fuel battery
BIN ZHU [CN]; ZHIGANG ZHU [CN]; WEN ZHU
[CN]; XIANGRONG LIU [CN]
ZHIGANG ZHU [CN]
Abstract -- The invention relates to a direct carbon fuel
cell, which provides a direct carbon fuel cell directly taking
carbon or carbon composite as the anode, and metal oxide as
the cathode, single or double phase low medium temperature
ceria composite as the electrolyte. The direct carbon fuel
cell is power molding button cell with electrolyte in the
middle and the anode and cathode separately on each side. The
pressed sheets of anode and cathode are one to two mm thick.
The invention can get the best performance about 0.25 watts
per square centimeter under the temperature of 600 to 650
degrees centigrade, which is two times above the performance
of such fuel cell according to a report from USA and has
reached the international leading level.
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