The Volt has been having its share of issues of late with fires after crash tests. Still it is one of the only cars of its type on the market today. The car is technically an EV with a gasoline generator that is used to power the batteries when they run out of charge. The problem is that the economy when the generator is operating is much less than when the car is on battery power.
Researchers at the University of Maryland have developed a new type of fuel cell that might be able to replace that gasoline generator in the Volt and similar vehicles in the future. The gasoline fuel cell is a much smaller alternative than the generator in the Volt today and it uses normal gas for fuel rather than hard to find and store hydrogen. The special fuel cell can also run on diesel or natural gas as well.
The cool part is that the team of researchers has been able to reduce the operating temperature of the fuel cell from 900 degrees to about 350-degrees. That temperature reduction makes the gas fuel cell much cheaper to build. The fuel cell also produces a lot of power for its size and to generate the same power that the Volt's gas generator makes the fuel cell would need to be only 10cm on a side.
[via Technology Review]