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Nissan North America and Georgia Institute of Technology have teamed up to create a new technology designed to give fuel cells more oomph. It’s based on nanotechnology, and more precisely on polymer fiber mats.

The project is part of $13 million Department of Energy program to advance fuel cell performance and durability and hydrogen storage technologies announced last month.

The $2.5 million collaboration is based on a new nanofiber mat technology developed by Peter Pintauro, a Professor of Chemical Engineering at Vanderbilt University (Tennessee), that replaces the conventional electrodes used in fuel cells. The nanofiber electrodes boost the power output of fuel cells by 30 percent while being less expensive and more durable than conventional catalyst layers. The technology has been patented by Vanderbilt and licensed to Merck KGaA in Germany, which is working with major auto manufacturers in applying it to the next generation of automotive fuel cells.

“The combination of the Georgia Tech catalyst with Vanderbilt’s nanofiber electrode technology could be a game-changer for the development and commercialization of automotive fuel cells,” Pintauro said.