Fuel Cells Find a Place at Home with New Converter

[RenewableEnergyAccess.com] Fuel cells have found a home in many industrial applications, but researchers at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University want to make the power generator appropriate for home use too. Working under a research grant managed by the National Energy Technology Laboratory, the researchers developed a highly efficient converter that can boost low DC voltage produced by solid oxide fuel cell stacks to the higher voltage required for conversion to AC for household and commercial applications. The boost is significant because it provides another technological step in increasing the efficiency, and reducing the size and cost of fuel cells. Virginia Tech, which is applying for a patent on the technology, developed its converter in the Department of Energy’s Solid State Energy Conversion Alliance (SECA) Program. Under terms of the SECA partnership, Virginia Tech will offer each of the SECA industrial teams the first option to enter into an agreement to apply the converter technology to their solid oxide fuel cell development projects. In a related matter, a private company has expressed an interest in Virginia Tech’s converter and is negotiating to apply it to solar, wind, and other renewable power technologies.


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