A team of US scientists has made a discovery that could dramatically improve the efficiency of batteries and fuel cells.
The technique can be applied to hand-held electronics, vehicles and power plants -- making them more cost-effective, efficient and environmentally friendly.
The research involves improving the transport of oxygen ions -- a key component in converting chemical reactions into electricity.
The team from the University of South Carolina and Clemson University studied a well-known material -- gadolinium doped ceria (GDC) -- which transports oxygen ions and is currently in use as a solid oxide fuel cell electrolyte.
Through the use of additives and a "smart" chemical reaction, they demonstrated a greatly enhanced conductivity in GDC.
The result is a faster and more efficient conversion into electricity.
"This breakthrough will pave the path to fabricate next generation energy conversion and storage devices with significantly enhanced performance, increasing energy efficiency and making energy environmentally benign and sustainable," explained Fanglin (Frank) Chen, chemical engineering professor at the University of South Carolina.
The paper appeared in the journal Nature Communications.