Over the past 12 months, developments in both porous and non-porous materials for the molten carbonate fuel cell (MCFC) should lead to significantly increased stack lifetimes. Lithium-sodium carbonate is emerging as the material of choice for the electrolyte and has been tested in a 10 kW scale stack. Several new cathode materials, with lower dissolution rates in the electrolyte than state-of-the-art NiO, have been tested. However a significant finding is that the dissolution rate of NiO can also be reduced by an order of magnitude by preparing it as a functional nanomaterial. Although most developers continue to use nickel anodes, recent tests with ceramic oxides anodes open up the prospects of reduced carbon deposition and future cells running directly on dry methane. (c) 2004 Published by Elsevier Ltd.