thecarchik writes "While electric-car advocates may avoid the issue, some buyers simply won't choose a plug-in car that can't travel unlimited distances. That's where the Chevy Volt-style range extender comes in, though the Volt adds unlimited range by burning gasoline in a conventional engine to generate electric power. Now, a new type of fuel cell offers the potential for a different kind of range extender, one that removes the enormous practical problem facing hydrogen fuel cells: the lack of a distribution infrastructure to fuel vehicles that require pure hydrogen to feed their fuel cells. Researchers at the University of Maryland have managed to shrink the size and lower the operating temperature of a solid-oxide fuel cell by a factor of 10, meaning it could conceivably produce as much power as a car engine but occupy less space. The advances come from new materials for the solid electrolyte, as well as design changes, and the researchers feel they have further avenues for improvement left to explore."