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Workshop on Hydrogen and Fuel Cells

Jornada APPICE 27 Marzo 2019

Distributed energy: facilities for self-consumption based on Renewable, Hydrogen and Fuel Cells

Date: Wednesday, March 27, 2019
Place: CIEMAT, Av. Complutense 40, 28040 Madrid

US Navy creates a superconductor that works at room temperature

High-powered fuel cell boosts electric-powered submersibles, drones


The transportation industry is one of the largest consumers of energy in the U.S. economy with increasing demand to make it cleaner and more efficient. While more people are using electric cars, designing electric-powered planes, ships and submarines is much harder due to power and energy requirements.

A team of engineers in the McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis has developed a high-power fuel cell that advances technology in this area. Led by Vijay Ramani, the Roma B. and Raymond H. Wittcoff Distinguished University Professor, the team has developed a direct borohydride fuel cell that operates at double the voltage of today’s commercial fuel cells.

This advancement using a unique pH-gradient-enabled microscale bipolar interface (PMBI), reported in Nature Energy Feb. 25, could power a variety of transportation modes – including unmanned underwater vehicles, drones and eventually electric aircraft – at significantly lower cost.

“The pH-gradient-enabled microscale bipolar interface is at the heart of this technology,” said Ramani, also professor of energy, environmental & chemical engineering. “It allows us to run this fuel cell with liquid reactants and products in submersibles, in which neutral buoyancy is critical, while also letting us apply it in higher-power applications such as drone flight.”

The fuel cell developed at Washington University uses an acidic electrolyte at one electrode and an alkaline electrolyte at the other electrode. Typically, the acid and alkali will quickly react when brought in contact with each other. Ramani said the key breakthrough is the PMBI, which is thinner than a strand of human hair. Using membrane technology developed at the McKelvey Engineering School, the PMBI can keep the acid and alkali from mixing, forming a sharp pH gradient and enabling the successful operation of this system.

“Previous attempts to achieve this kind of acid-alkali separation were not able to synthesize and fully characterize the pH gradient across the PMBI,” said Shrihari Sankarasubramanian, a research scientist on Ramani’s team. “Using a novel electrode design in conjunction with electroanalytical techniques, we were able to unequivocally show that the acid and alkali remain separated.”

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Strategic Framework of Energy and Climate: An opportunity for the modernization of the Spanish economy and the creation of employment.


The Paris Agreement of 2015 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of the United Nations mark the beginning of a sustainable global agenda that entails the transformation of the economic model and a new social contract of inclusive prosperity within the limits of the planet.

In response, the European Union has provided itself with a broad legal framework that will allow it to remain at the forefront of the transition and meet the objectives of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

In this context, the Strategic Energy and Climate Framework, presented by the Government, is an opportunity for the modernization of the Spanish economy, the creation of employment, the positioning of Spain’s leadership in the renewable energies and technologies that will dominate the next decade, the development of the rural environment, the improvement of the health of people and the environment, and social justice.

It facilitates a transformation of the Spanish economy in which the country will gain in prosperity, energy security, generation of industrial employment, innovation, health, technological development and social justice, accompanying the most vulnerable groups.

The framework guides the Spanish business fabric towards the place where the competitive advantages will be in the future: innovation and capacity to produce with greater efficiency and with a low or no environmental footprint, reinforcing the national and international competitiveness of our companies.

The key elements that make up this framework are: the preliminary draft of the Climate Change and Energy Transition Law, the Integrated National Energy and Climate Plan (PNIEC) 2021-2030, and the Just Transition Strategy. There are three essential pillars whose sum effect guarantees that Spain has a stable and accurate strategic framework for the decarbonisation of its economy; an efficient roadmap for the next decade, the 2021-2030 Plan, designed in coherence with the emissions neutrality we aspire to in 2050; and a strategy of solidary and just transition accompaniment, to ensure that people and territories take advantage of the opportunities of this transition and nobody is left behind.

Spain needs to position itself as soon as possible in the innovation, technologies, and the leading industry in a process of transformation that is already underway all over the world, with the objective of making the most of the opportunities it presents and that serves as a lever for the modernization and the progress of the country.

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