Zothecula writes: Drones are being utilized in everything from parcel delivery to search and rescue, but their limited flight times are restricting their ability to travel great distances or stay for extended periods of time in the field. Simply adding more batteries, however, affects flight characteristics and reduces the load the drone can carry. To help solve this problem, researchers at the Pohang University of Science and Technology (Postech) have created a miniature fuel cell they claim not only provides enough energy to keep a drone in the sky for over an hour, but may well find applications in powering everything from smartphones to cars in the not-too-distant future. Developed by Professor Gyeong Man Choi and his Ph.D. student Kun Joong Kim at Postech, the new solid oxide fuel cell is claimed by the researchers to be the first to use porous stainless steel in combination with thin-film electrolyte, all brought together using a technique known as tape casting-lamination-cofiring. Allied with electrodes of low heat capacity, this amalgamation not only results in increased performance, but also in higher long-term durability. The Postech device generates power by converting hydrogen (in this case, "Wet" H2 gas comprising 97 percent H2 and 3 percent H2O mixture) supplied as fuel gas to the anode to create electricity. It does this through the use of a solid oxide material acting as the electrolyte that allows the conduction of negative oxygen ions from the cathode to the anode. These ions diffuse through the solid oxide electrolyte to the anode where they oxidize the fuel. This reaction produces electrons, which then flow through an external circuit to provide power.
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