Efficient Fuel Cell Membrane

A hybrid fuel cell with superior conductivity and a low carbon-monoxide risk

A hybrid fuel cell that offers superior conductivity with a low carbon-monoxide poisoning risk

About

Murat Unlu and Paul A. Kohl from the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Georgia Tech have developed a hybrid fuel cell that offers superior conductivity with a low carbon-monoxide poisoning risk. The fuel cell encompasses a stack of acidic and alkaline fuel cell membranes. This is achieved by sandwiching a conductive cation exchange membrane between two catalyst-coated anion exchange membranes. This structure creates two ionic junctions where the membranes join one another. Georgia Tech’s innovation provides many advantages over traditional PEM or AEM designs. Ion movements in this acidic-alkaline configuration are different from those in acidic PEMs, allowing for faster fuel oxidation and oxygen reduction as well as increased output voltage. The metallic catalyst in alkaline conditions can be nickel or silver rather than the prohibitively expensive platinum required for acidic conditions. Carbon-monoxide oxidation is less likely to occur in an alkaline environment, so the risk of carbon-monoxide poisoning is significantly reduced. Georgia Tech’s hybrid fuel cells also offer improved water management compared to traditional AEM or PEM cells and can operate at lower relative humidity.

Key Benefits

Cheaper: Silver or nickel may be used as catalysts rather than platinum. Faster: The hybrid cell design offers faster oxidation of fuels, such as methanol or ethanol. Less toxic: Carbon monoxide is less likely to form in alkaline conditions.

Applications

Electric vehicle batteries Distributed power sources Industrial equipment and machinery

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