Solid oxide fuel cell system demonstrates record efficiency
Solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC) function like batteries that you can continually add fuel to. The Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory revealed a new type of SOFC yesterday, which achieves record-breaking efficiency in converting natural gas into electricity. SOFCs produce electricity by reacting negatively charged molecular oxygen with a fuel source, in this case methane from natural gas. The Laboratory's device combines in-house-developed "microchannel" technology -- allowing for more complete reaction of fuels -- with fuel and energy recycling to boost efficiency. The grouop is focusing on developing smaller, more locally focused systems to save on large-scale energy transport systems, which are generally less efficient. Their current system is designed to power one or a few typical American households, but are designing a larger system that would power 50-100 average American homes.