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Sustainable Energy

Fuel Cells Clean Up

A manufacturer unveils the first fuel-cell-powered vacuum cleaner.

Vacuum maker Electrolux has recently partnered with New York’s Manhattan Scientifics and Lunar Design in San Francisco to develop the first fuel-cell-powered vacuum cleaner. It will use a hydrogen fuel-cell technology developed by Passau, Germany-based NovArs. The stacked cylindrical fuel cells-made of lightweight carbon-composite materials held together with sealants instead of bolts and screws-weigh in at only 780 grams each. The cells generate electricity using hydrogen, which passes through a membrane, giving up electrons in the process. The electrons create a charge as they move through a circuit. The fuel cells can power a 1,000-watt motor for several hours of continuous operation, something not possible with rechargeable lead-acid batteries. When the vacuum’s power is exhausted, its hydrogen tank can be replaced as easily as the propane bottle on a barbeque grill. Electrolux plans to begin selling the 4.5-kilogram vacuum cleaner in a backpack model next year.

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