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How Energy Engineers Are Revolutionizing Battery & Fuel Cell Technology

By November 15, 2021 5   min read  (909 words)

November 15, 2021 |

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Moving forward to a more sustainable planet requires cutting-edge innovations. But this quest is not without its challenges. Renewable energy engineers are leading the way by developing groundbreaking fuel cell and battery technology.

Today’s Renewable Energy Challenges

Reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and coal is more than just creating new renewable energy sources. Many of these sources come from solar or wind energy. When there are not enough batteries and other energy storage options available, we default to nonrenewable energy.

Because of that, we need to develop innovative ways to store this energy, regardless of the time of day or the weather. New technology can address this and other renewable energy dilemmas to move us towards more reliance on eco-friendly fuels.

Renewable energy engineers are tasked with solving our sustainable energy challenges.

Today’s Renewable Energy Engineers

Renewable energy engineers tackle all kinds of fuel and storage issues. Some work as researchers or consultants improving existing renewable energy systems. They may also design more efficient machines, such as solar energy systems. Or they may retool existing systems.

The U.S. Department of Energy just announced $8 million for clean hydrogen solutions, which will boost demand for renewable energy engineers. This lucrative profession requires an advanced degree and may require licensing as well.

What other solutions are these engineers developing today? Here are some of the latest innovations.

Repurposing Fossil Fuel Systems

Energy storage has short-term uses that involve batteries (i.e., a few hours to run your car). Longer-term applications, such as supporting a utility grid, need more durable and flexible solutions.

Energy engineers are key to solving that challenge. One way is by creatively repurposing structures such as existing structures. In Colorado, a former coal plant is being repurposed to store renewable energy. Parts of the plant’s equipment will be turned into a molten salt energy storage system.

The system is a long way from complete, but these are the kinds of challenges that keep energy engineers in high demand.

Better Fuel Cell Systems for Heavy Vehicles

As electric cars grow in popularity and usage, heavier vehicles, such as motorhomes and boats, must also embrace renewable energy. However, their excessive weight makes this a challenge.

The solution? Newly debuted fuel cell and battery technology. The EFYO 150 and EFOY 80 are direct methanol fuel cells that are lightweight, compact, and flexible enough to provide plenty of installation options for these vehicles.

EFOY also developed compatible Li lithium batteries that support maximum efficiency — and longer life — for use with these fuel cells. Together, they have enough energy to power a refrigerator, TV screen, or even a personal laptop.

These devices are also guaranteed to provide power at unplugged campsites. They can produce heat if the weather dips way below freezing — up to -20 degrees Celsius.

In Australia, Cummins Inc. is improving fuel cells and batteries for public transportation busses. Their Battery Electric System includes a light casing that encloses flexible energy-dense modules. Cummins fuel cell electric powertrain works with the battery to create a complete system, including hydrogen storage.

With innovations like these, a future when all vehicles run on renewable energy is within our grasp.

Lithium-Ion Batteries

Lithium-ion batteries are a type of electric battery used in devices such as small electronics. But their most popular use is in plug-in hybrid electric vehicles or all-electric vehicles.

Unfortunately, they can be expensive or overheat. Battery life is another challenge. Renewable energy engineers are working on reducing their high costs, improving safety, and making these batteries more efficient.

Consumers, however, can help improve the life of lithium batteries by keeping up with vehicle maintenance. Simple actions like using a diagnostic tool to gauge efficiency and keeping scheduled maintenance appointments improve fuel efficiency. This also helps to keep these cars running longer. And, of course, that helps save money and keeps consumers safe.

Hydrogen-Powered Vehicles for Commercial Use

Another innovation renewable energy engineers are pursuing is hydrogen-powered vehicle technology. Hydrogen and oxygen are used to produce electricity. The energy created is then stored in the hydrogen fuel tank rather than the typical lithium battery. Instead, batteries are used to start the car rather than run it.

Loop Energy specializes in designing hydrogen-powered vehicles. They are partnering with Aliant Battery to develop these vehicles for commercial use. Aliant develops lithium batteries for industrial and commercial vehicles. They also develop stationary power sources to provide recharging capabilities.

Integrating these commercial vehicle fuel cells with a compatible battery and stationary power sources will help expand heavy vehicle applications. Global electric public transportation is a dream that is now being realized with these innovations.

These are just a handful of current applications that renewable energy engineers are developing. As the world moves towards more sustainable options, this field will grow by leaps and bounds. The future of renewable energy is here, thanks to these professionals.

 

About the Author
Indiana Lee

Indiana Lee, Contributor

Indiana Lee is a professional writer who resides in the Pacific Northwest. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking with her two dogs and creating. Follow her Twitter account to learn more about her.

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