Startup develops material for hydrogen fuel cells | KOB 4
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Startup develops material for hydrogen fuel cells

Caleb James
July 25, 2017 10:37 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Tom Stephenson is like Albuquerque's Willy Wonka, but with hydrogen power. Inside a little lab in his hometown, Stephenson and his team are formulating the future of transportation in little test tubes.

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Hydrogen-powered cars could lift fossil fuel dependence off motorists' shoulders. But running an engine on basically water is out-of-this-world expensive, which is making Stephenson a very popular inventor.

"Every fuel cell vehicle is going to need material like what we produce," he said.

Hydrogen cars are simple. Oxygen and hydrogen mix to power an electric engine, and water is the only emission.

"But in order for that reaction to go fast enough, it needs help," Stephenson said.

Stephenson and friends made a thin film built directly into the hydrogen fuel cells. The cutting-edge material is dubbed Pajarito Powder.

"The inspiration for the name actually is the Pajarito Mesa, which is the site of Loa Alamos National Lab," Stephenson said.

It's a nod to some secret tech developed at the lab, and car companies are lining up.

"We're working with practically every car manufacturer that has a fuel cell program," Stephenson said.

Stephenson won't name names, but Toyota, Audi, and Honda are currently developing hydrogen cars. Chevrolet has a program as well.

"We are exporting to companies not just around the country, but around the world," Stephenson said.

With 17 employees and rapidly growing, Stephenson said the economic potential is huge for New Mexico. It's all from a little Pajarito Powder that could one day power your commute.

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Caleb James

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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