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Fuel Cell Technologies

Testing New Fuel Cell Membrane Designs with Potential to Reduce Manufacturing Costs

Company Name: Amsen Technologies LLC
Program Office: Fuel Cells
Location: Tucson, AZ
Website: N/A
Email: amsen@mindspring.com
Award Amount: $150,000
Project Term: 12 months
Project Status: Active
Participating Lab(s): Los Alamos National Laboratory

CRITICAL NEED

Fuel cell technology can provide an alternative means for storing energy, both in stationary sources and in transportation, but its current reliance on precious metals can make it cost prohibitive for many applications. Fuel cell manufacturing would benefit from developing higher-performance polymer electrolyte membranes utilizing non-precious metal catalysts. Amsen Technologies is developing such membranes, which it thinks can serve as an alternative to Nafion and other expensive membranes used in fuel cells today.

New polymer electrolyte membranes need to be extensively characterized and evaluated against Department of Energy targets for fuel cell applications, including ion conductivity, area specific resistance of the membrane for ionic conduction, oxygen crossover, hydrogen crossover, electrical resistance, mechanical durability, and chemical durability. The membranes also need to be incorporated into high performance membrane electrode assemblies.

This project will allow Amsen Technologies to work with Los Alamos National Laboratory staff and facilities to characterize the capabilities of its technology and provide a platform for fuel cell testing. The results of this work will help adjust, improve, and optimize the development process of new polymer electrolyte membranes for fuel cells.


PROJECT INNOVATION + ADVANTAGES

Amsen is developing lower-cost acidic membranes, as well as alkaline membranes that could enable the use of non-precious fuel cell catalysts. If successfully tested and developed more fully, these membranes could lead to significant cost reductions in the manufacturing of fuel cells. This project will address a bottleneck limiting the development of high-performance fuel cells, particularly for transportation applications.


POTENTIAL IMPACT

Economy:

Innovation in this field would have a significant impact on the global membrane electrode assemblies market, valued at $444 million in 2012, and expected to increase to $1.2 billion by 2017.

Environment:

Replacing fossil energy with fuel cells would reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as other pollutants. Fuel cells based on polymer electrolyte membranes are a leading candidate to power zero emission vehicles and fuel cells are also of interest for stationary power applications, including primary power, backup power, and combined heat and power.

Security:

Cost-effective fuel cells can diversify domestic energy supplies and give grid operators more options for managing electricity loads.


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