Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Faster, Cheaper Fuel Cells: New $1.6 Million DoE Grant Supports Fuel Cell Manufacturing Innovations

Abstract:
Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have won a $1.6 million federal grant to develop new methods for manufacturing a key fuel cell component.

Faster, Cheaper Fuel Cells: New $1.6 Million DoE Grant Supports Fuel Cell Manufacturing Innovations

Troy, NY | Posted on March 25th, 2009

The multi-year grant, awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy, aims to create new technology and processes for faster, more cost-effective manufacturing of fuel cell membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs). Comprised of a stacked proton exchange membrane (PEM), catalyst, and electrodes, MEAs are the heart and soul of a fuel cell.

"The new system we plan to develop is essentially a high-speed, high-quality assembly process for fuel cell MEAs," said Ray Puffer, principle investigator of the project and program director for industrial automation at Rensselaer's Center for Automation Technologies and Systems (CATS). "If successful, we anticipate this project will yield a major reduction in the time it takes to make MEAs, as well as improved uniformity, less defects, and lower manufacturing costs. The end result will be cheaper, more reliable fuel cells for everyone."

Fuel cells are a promising green technology that convert a fuel, such as hydrogen or, less commonly, natural gas, into electricity via an electro-chemical reaction. In the case of hydrogen fuel cells, the only byproducts are water and heat, making it a true zero-emissions energy source. The prohibitive cost of producing and manufacturing fuel cells, however, have thus far prevented more widespread adoption and use of the technology. Typical fuel cell applications under development include portable electronics, such as laptop computers or tactical radios for the military, as well as with vehicles, and residential or industrial combined heat and power systems.

Like every mass-produced product, from automobiles to candy bars, it is imperative that every unit to roll off the manufacturing line look, perform, taste, and behave exactly the same. Fuel cell MEAs are no exception. Working with Rensselaer collaborators Daniel Walczyk, professor of mechanical, aerospace, and nuclear engineering, as well as CATS Director John Wen, professor of electrical, computer, and systems engineering, Puffer will develop materials, designs, and adaptive process controls for MEA manufacturing. The team will work to automate new sensing technology into the MEA pressing process, to help ensure less defects and greater uniformity of performance.

The second main objective is to reduce the time it takes to press and assemble MEAs. To accomplish this, Puffer and his team will develop a novel, robust ultrasonic bonding process for assembling and fusing together the different components of high-temperature PEM MEAs. Ultrasonic welding uses high-frequency vibrations and pressure, rather than heat, to conjoin two pieces of metal or plastic. Early ultrasonic pressing designs and experiments have been promising, Puffer said, and have the potential to reduce the pressing process of a single MEA to less than one second.

"To be cost effective, the time it takes to manufacture a single MEA must be measured in milliseconds, or at most, a few seconds," Puffer said. "Similarly, the time it takes to assemble a stack must be measured in seconds or minutes, instead of hours."

The new DoE grant awards $1.61 million over 42 months. An additional $870,000 in cost share by project participants brings the total project budget to nearly $2.5 million. Partnering with Rensselaer are: Arizona State University, of Tempe, Ariz.; BASF Fuel Cell GmbH, of Germany and Somerset, N.J.; Progressive Machine and Design, LLC, of Victor, N.Y.; and UltraCell Corp., of Livermore, Calif.

For more information, visit the CATS Web site. The CATS is supported by the New York State Foundation for Science, Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR) as a designated Center for

####

About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Throughout its history, Rensselaer research has produced ground-breaking work in a broad range of important areas.

Early RPI engineering graduates built bridges that linked people, commerce, and communities. Today, Rensselaer people are building the bridges that will link the world to the promises of new technologies.

The collaborative efforts of our students, faculty, corporate partners, and government agencies are generating a new momentum in research and the development of innovative technologies, including biotechnology, information technology, and nanotechnology.

Creating and applying knowledge, and interdisciplinary inquiry, with a rigorous approach to solving problems, Rensselaer men and Rensselaer women are fulfilling the university’s role as a place where people find innovative solutions to complex technical challenges.

Contacts:
Michael Mullaney
Phone: (518) 276-6161

Copyright © Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Shape matters when light meets atom: Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices December 4th, 2016

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses: Medicine diffusion capsule could locally treat multiple ailments and diseases over several weeks December 3rd, 2016

Novel Electrode Structure Provides New Promise for Lithium-Sulfur Batteries December 3rd, 2016

Research Study: MetaSOLTM Shatters Solar Panel Efficiency Forecasts with Innovative New Coating: Coating Provides 1.2 Percent Absolute Enhancement to Triple Junction Solar Cells December 2nd, 2016

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Shape matters when light meets atom: Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices December 4th, 2016

Research Study: MetaSOLTM Shatters Solar Panel Efficiency Forecasts with Innovative New Coating: Coating Provides 1.2 Percent Absolute Enhancement to Triple Junction Solar Cells December 2nd, 2016

Deep insights from surface reactions: Researchers use Stampede supercomputer to study new chemical sensing methods, desalination and bacterial energy production December 2nd, 2016

Quantum obstacle course changes material from superconductor to insulator December 1st, 2016

Announcements

Shape matters when light meets atom: Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices December 4th, 2016

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses: Medicine diffusion capsule could locally treat multiple ailments and diseases over several weeks December 3rd, 2016

Novel Electrode Structure Provides New Promise for Lithium-Sulfur Batteries December 3rd, 2016

Research Study: MetaSOLTM Shatters Solar Panel Efficiency Forecasts with Innovative New Coating: Coating Provides 1.2 Percent Absolute Enhancement to Triple Junction Solar Cells December 2nd, 2016

Energy

Research Study: MetaSOLTM Shatters Solar Panel Efficiency Forecasts with Innovative New Coating: Coating Provides 1.2 Percent Absolute Enhancement to Triple Junction Solar Cells December 2nd, 2016

Deep insights from surface reactions: Researchers use Stampede supercomputer to study new chemical sensing methods, desalination and bacterial energy production December 2nd, 2016

Throwing new light on printed organic solar cells December 1st, 2016

Physics, photosynthesis and solar cells: Researchers combine quantum physics and photosynthesis to make discovery that could lead to highly efficient, green solar cells November 30th, 2016

Fuel Cells

Water vapor sets some oxides aflutter: Newly discovered phenomenon could affect materials in batteries and water-splitting devices October 3rd, 2016

Carbon-coated iron catalyst structure could lead to more-active fuel cells September 15th, 2016

Imperial College use Kleindiek micromanipulators in their research into electrochemical energy devices September 6th, 2016

Iowa State engineers treat printed graphene with lasers to enable paper electronics September 2nd, 2016

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project