Volkswagen has submitted a patent application for a new hydrogen fuel cell that, in addition to being more affordable than the ones already in use, will enable cars to go up to 2,000 kilometers between fill-ups.
Volkswagen does not want to fall behind the hydrogen train, as evidenced by the patent application for this new fuel cell that it co-created with the German business Kraftwerk Tubes. Volkswagen works behind closed doors to develop this technology.
In contrast, hydrogen fuel cells have the ability to produce their own electricity. For this, they need a fuel cell that turns hydrogen into energy and a high-pressure tank that stores the hydrogen in gas form; if it were liquid, it would need to be stored at very low temperatures. Like batteries, fuel cells feature an anode and a cathode.
An electrolyte membrane is responsible for converting hydrogen (H2) into a proton (H+) and an electron once it arrives through the anode (e-). They then go in diverse directions to the cathode due to an electrolyte. The protons move through the electrolyte to the cathode while the electrons travel through an external circuit to generate an electrical current, which powers the car’s engine. There, they combine with the electron and oxygen, which enters the cathode immediately, to produce heat and water. However, the fuel cell developed by Volkswagen and Kraftwerk puts a new spin on the materials typically utilized for membranes.
The new ceramic membrane also doesn’t require moisturizing, so it doesn’t freeze in the winter, dry out in the summer, or draw mold.