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A new hope for fuel cells

Like a ne’er-do-well brother-in-law, the fuel-cell industry and its local flagship, Ballard Power Systems, have made a career of raising hopes, only to disappoint. But Ballard’s latest milestone is once again turning heads (and has given its stock price a shot in the arm). Ballard has unveiled a fuel cell that makes scant use of platinum, an expensive raw material required by previous generations of the technology. This development is expected to lop 10% to 15% off the cost of making a fuel cell, bringing it closer to cost-competitiveness for a number of applications, beginning with portable military electronics.