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PolyFuel, a California-based fuel cell company, plans to announce that it has achieved a breakthrough that will make fuel cells both more efficient and cheaper to manufacture, according to the New York Times. The advance, a new material for fuel-cell membranes, could make the technology practical for use in cars much sooner than anticipated.

The new membrane material replaces the fluorine compounds most commonly used in today’s experimental fuel cells with a hydrocarbon that costs about half as much per square meter and also facilitates the production of more electricity per square centimeter of membrane. The upshot: a fuel cell that could produce the same power as one with a fluorine membrane, but would be smaller and lighter, adding to efficiency even more.

Although some experts are skeptical of PolyFuel’s claims, companies such as Honda are pursuing similar research.

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