Rooftop fuel cells may one day join refrigerators, furnaces, and yes, chicken dinners among the staples of modern domestic life in the U.S.
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That could be the outcome of a new solar-fuel cell hybrid system under development by Duke University researcher Nico Hotz, who foresees that fuel cells may eventually trump rooftop solar panels as the equipment of choice for building owners who want to generate their own clean, cheap, renewable energy.
In contrast to traditional means for creating energy by burning fuels like coal and oil, fuel cells create energy by chemical reaction.
Until now, hydrogen has been the standard ingredient for fuel cells, but hydrogen production involves expensive processes all the way through from production to storage. That's one reason why fuel cells have been slow to make inroads into the alternative fuel vehicle market, let alone development for household use.