Fuel Cell Cost Reduction Using Graphene Oxide Composites
Company Name: Garmor Inc.
Program Office: Fuel Cells
Location: Orlando, FL
Email: Sean Christiansen, Co-founder & VP of Engineering;
Award Amount: $100,000
Project Term: 12 months
Project Status: Active
Participating Lab(s): National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Fuel cells are comprised of several components that all contribute to cell energy density, cost and durability. Innovators are focused on various types of materials that can improve individual fuel cell components and systems while reducing cost.
Garmor Inc. is a carbon and graphite product manufacturer that produces low-cost, few-layer graphene oxide and develops recipes for incorporating it into polymers to significantly improve electrical, mechanical, and optical characteristics of polymer composites. However, the company is not capitalized to manufacture such composites as their main product, and their lab is not instrumented to conduct the type of tests needed to show feasibility of GO-Graphite-Thermoplastic bipolar plates in fuel cells. Such plates connect fuel cell anodes and cathodes and their design greatly impacts fuel cell performance. Testing to date has been limited to rudimentary bench tests of in-plane and through-plane electrical conductivity of test articles. Also, Garmor does not have the analytical tools to model and ascertain the impact that an advanced performance bipolar plate could have on this product or the industry broadly. As part of the SBV Pilot, Garmor will work with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to conduct ex-situ and in-situ tests using Garmor's supplied bipolar plate materials. The results will be compared to relevant materials, and guidance will be provided to Garmor to improve the performance of their plates.
PROJECT INNOVATION + ADVANTAGES
The proposed materials compete with either metal bipolar plates where corrosion issues and expensive coating layers are a concern, or other polymer carbon composites. Garmor's approach has potential benefits over other carbon bipolar plate approaches due to the cost, conductivity, and corrosion resistance of the materials. The results of testing will help Garmor quantify the technical and cost payoffs of achieving a very high through-plane electrical conductivity in a composite bipolar plate for proton exchange membrane fuel cells. The plates created through this project will include composites that will be used to form microstructured surface features to improve surface tension for water droplet control. Plate hydrophobicity is crucial for fuel cell performance; lifetime and startup/shutdown operation and stack testing on plates with these features that will help validate their utility.
Fuel cell technology requires advanced manufacturing facilities and skilled labor. While still small, the industry has experienced a greater-than-30-percent growth rate since 2010 as costs for fuel cell components have dropped.
Producing hydrogen fuel sustainably – through wind or solar electricity, for instance – can ensure that fuel cells supplement renewable energy growth and contribute to pollution reduction goals, including cutting carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions.
Fuel cell technology is well suited to provide emergency backup power to critical infrastructure, including hospitals, utilities and first responders. Fuel cell transportation technology can also help displace oil use, contributing to enhanced energy security.
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