Fuel Cell Technologies
Development and Evaluation of Perfluorinated Electrolytes
The world's increasingly high energy demand and the corresponding pollution problems resulting from the widespread use of fossil fuels make it increasingly important to develop the renewable energy sources of limitless duration with smaller environmental impact.
Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles offer an alternative to fossil fuel combustion in both power generation and transportation. However, alternative energy sources must be economically competitive with conventional sources if they are to be widely adopted. Alkaline membrane fuel cells are promising, in part, because they do not use costly precious metals as a catalyst and therefore enjoy reduced production costs compared to proton-exchange membrane fuel cells. However, the stability of alkaline membranes is a bottleneck for developing and deploying the technology. The Midwest Energy Group (MEG) has developed chemically stable alkaline membranes that it hopes can break through in the marketplace.
MEG has gained experience on the design, synthesis and test of fluoropolymer-based membranes at laboratory scales over the years. The equipment and expertise available at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory can allow MEG to test its design at larger scales. In addition, third-party technology evaluation from experts in this field are of critical importance for introducing new products into the market.
PROJECT INNOVATION + ADVANTAGES
Evaluating the long-term performance of membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs), including their stability, in prototype membranes will help accelerate the project's commercialization timeline. NREL employs some of the world’s leading experts in the synthesis and testing of fuel cell membranes, with unique expertise in the area of alkaline membranes that are central to MEG’s project.
Fuel cells are more efficient than diesel or gas engines and developing hydrogen fuel cleanly can dramatically reduce and even eliminate pollution caused by burning fossil fuels. Indeed, at the tailpipe level, hydrogen fuel cells emit only water and the technology could dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Developing this technology can create opportunities for advanced manufacturing, including in the automotive industry. Hydrogen fuel cell technology can also transfer to other energy applications, such as iron-chromium batteries.
Hydrogen fuel generation can be distributed and does not have to be grid-dependent, which makes the overall grid and transportation system more resilient to disruption.
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