Widespread adoption of hydrogen-powered vehicles over traditional electric vehicles requires fuel cells that can convert hydrogen and oxygen safely into water—a serious implementation problem. Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder are addressing one aspect of that roadblock by developing new computational tools and models needed to better understand and manage the conversion process. Hendrik Heinz, an associate professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, is leading the effort in partnership with the University of California Los Angeles. His team recently published new findings on the subject in Science Advances. Fuel cell electric vehicles combine hydrogen in a tank with oxygen taken from the air to produce the electricity needed to run. They don’t need to be plugged in to charge and have the added benefit of producing water vapor as a byproduct. Those, plus other factors, have made them an intriguing option in the green and renewable energy transportation areas.
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