Internal portion of the 120W fuel cell stack (photo )
Genepax Co Ltd explained the technologies used in its new fuel cell system "Water Energy System (WES)," which uses water as a fuel and does not emit CO2.
The system can generate power just by supplying water and air to the fuel and air electrodes, respectively, the company said at the press conference, which took place June 12, 2008, at the Osaka Assembly Hall.
The basic power generation mechanism of the new system is similar to that of a normal fuel cell, which uses hydrogen as a fuel. According to Genepax, the main feature of the new system is that it uses the company's membrane electrode assembly (MEA), which contains a material capable of breaking down water into hydrogen and oxygen through a chemical reaction.
Though the company did not reveal the details, it "succeeded in adopting a well-known process to produce hydrogen from water to the MEA," said Hirasawa Kiyoshi, the company's president. This process is allegedly similar to the mechanism that produces hydrogen by a reaction of metal hydride and water. But compared with the existing method, the new process is expected to produce hydrogen from water for longer time, the company said.
With the new process, the cell needs only water and air, eliminating the need for a hydrogen reformer and high-pressure hydrogen tank. Moreover, the MEA requires no special catalysts, and the required amount of rare metals such as platinum is almost the same as that of existing systems, Genepax said.