House power

Published: Thursday 31 December 1998

A prototype fuel cell that can turn every household into a mini power station has recently been developed at Keele University in Staffordshire, UK. Chemist Kevin Kendall and his colleagues have incorporated a ceramic battery into a conventional gas-powered water heater. Free electrons produced by the combustion of natural gas and oxygen are used to create a voltage across a thousand tiny tubes of zirconitan oxide coated on the inside and outside with metal alloys. This would provide enough electricity to power an average home. A soon-to-be-produced commercial version may effectively eliminate domestic electricity bills, Kendall says.

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