Fuel cells are used for the direct conversion of chemical energy into electrical energy. Thus, for example, they are promising in providing the required electrical power for electric motors in cars. The expected advantage of this new technology is the higher theoretical efficiency level, which promises energy savings. Since the cell is operated at significantly lower temperatures, nitrogen oxides in the exhaust are also eliminated. In addition, electric motors are very quiet compared to conventional car engines. Other applications for fuel cells could be small portable devices (laptops, camping,...) or supplying homes with heat and electricity, for example.
The problem with conventional fuel cells, however, lies in its fuel - hydrogen. This is a gas at normal temperatures and therefore difficult to store. As an alternative, methanol is an option for a liquid fuel. The conversion from hydrogen to methanol as a fuel is, however, a new challenge, so it will take some time before the first directly methanol-operated vehicle goes into production.