3M and Other Minnesota Firms Join Fuel Cell Race

Minnesota has roadmap to take advantage of US fuel cell initiative.

Published: 11-Feb-2003

Feb. 11--By itself, the contraption looks like a coaster or CD. But to Michael Lynn, manager of 3M's fuel cell components program, the 4-inch-wide flexible disk is the key to what many believe is the most viable clean-energy alternative for the future -- hydrogen fuel cells.

"That right there is a power plant," said Lynn, pointing to the disk on his desk at 3M's Maplewood headquarters. Make that a small power plant. It would take a stack of about 200 of the disks to replace a car engine. The disk, which 3M makes in a range of sizes, actually is a "membrane electrode assembly." It's the heart of a popular type of hydrogen-based fuel cell, the revolutionary power generator scientists have been developing for years.

Hydrogen fuel cells convert simple, omnipresent hydrogen into electricity to run factories, houses, laptops and cars -- with no noise and zero pollution.

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