From Science Daily:

An international group of scientists from Russia, France, and Germany have developed ion-exchange synthetic membranes based on amphiphilic compounds that are able to convert the energy of chemical reactions into electrical current. The new development described in the journal Physical Chemistry, Chemical Physics could potentially be used in fuel cells, and in separation and purification processes. The study was conducted by MIPT’s Laboratory of Functional Organic and Hybrid Materials, which was opened in 2014.

Fuel cells consist of separate galvanic cells and their closest relatives are batteries (primary cells) and accumulators (secondary cells). Batteries convert the energy of the reaction between an oxidizing agent and a reducing agent, and stop working when these agents are used up. An accumulator is able to store electrical energy applied to it from an external source, convert it to chemical energy, and release it again, thus reversing the process. A fuel cell on the other hand, which is also an electrochemical generator, gets the materials that it needs to function from an external source. These materials are a

reducing agent (usually hydrogen, methanol or methane) and an oxidizing agent, oxygen. Providing these materials from an external source means that electricity can be obtained from a fuel cell continuously without having to stop to recharge for as long as the parts of the cell are in working order.

The main elements of this generator are a cathode and an anode, separated by an ion-exchange membrane.

At the cathode, the reducing agent is dissociated — an…

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