Proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells that use methanol as fuel offer enormous potential for transitioning consumers to electric cars, while leveraging the advantages of a familiar liquid fuel infrastructure. Such fuel cells, however, depend on a separate reformer to extract the hydrogen from the methanol. Now, a joint research team from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and the University of Southern California (USC) has developed a direct methanol liquid feed fuel cell (DMLFFC) that not only doesn't require a reformer, it actually produces more energy from a mixture of 97% water and 3% methanol than from methanol or hydrogen alone. The secret lies in the addition of 50% ruthenium to the normally platinum-only anode catalyst. The carbon-to-hydrogen bonds in the methanol/water solution are broken in the presence of the catalyst, resulting in hydrogen ions (protons) and electrons--the output current. The protons migrate through the membrane and combine with oxygen from the air to produce water. This water is remixed with the methanol fuel so that only methanol has to be added to the cell. To date, prototypes have run for more than 200 hours continuously and for more than 3,000 hours intermittently, without loss of performance. FAX (818) 354-4537.
From home enthusiasts to workers on the manufacturing floor, everyone's imagination is captured by the potential of 3D printing. Prototyping, spare parts creation, art delivery, human organ creation, and even mass product production are all being targeted as current and potential uses for the technology.
Solar and wind energy are becoming more viable as a source of energy on the electric grid. For decades, the major drawback to solar and wind was that they’re temperamental. A cloudy day kills solar and a still day renders the wind turbines useless. Automation tools, however, are providing a path to help these renewables become practical.
In honor of Earth Day, the National Security Agency has launched the STEM Recycling Challenge in Maryland schools to encourage kids to think about where the garbage they throw out every day actually goes. The agency has also introduced “Dunk,” a muscular blue cartoon recycling bin wearing shorts and sneakers.
Samsung's Galaxy line of smartphones used to fare quite well in the repairability department, but last year's flagship S5 model took a tumble, scoring a meh-inducing 5/10. Will the newly redesigned S6 lead us back into star-studded territory, or will we sink further into the depths of a repairability black hole?
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.