Proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) are a highly efficient means of converting the chemical energy of a combustion reaction to electrical and mechanical energy. While this non-polluting power source has a promising future, further development is needed. For example, Nafion fuel cells are favored for their high conductivities and degradation resistance. However, they are limited to temperatures below 100°C because of dehydration. Consequently, the fuel cell is susceptible to catalyst poisoning by carbon monoxide impurities in the fuel gas. Therefore, there is a need for new polymer electrolyte membranes that operate effectively and efficiently at higher temperatures.
Researchers at Arizona State University have developed a flexible inorganic fuel cell membrane with high conductivity and temperature stability. This flexible-solid electrolyte has elastic and rubber-like properties. The new material can produce stable currents in excess of 1 amp/cm2 at temperatures up to 150°C when used as the membrane in hydrogen-oxygen fuel cells. It operates at an increased temperature range without sacrificing high temperature conductivity or open circuit voltage. This is achieved through the introduction of compounds that inhibit decomposition or water loss at high temperatures. The elimination of dehydration and catalyst poisoning at high temperatures increases the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the fuel cell.
- Fuel Cells
- Portable Electronics
- Motor Vehicles
Benefits and Advantages
- Flexible – Membrane is elastic, flexible, and deformable.
- Increased Thermal Stability – Operates efficiently at high temperatures.
- Increased Efficiency – Elimination of dehydration and catalyst poisoning allows fuel cell to operate at higher temperatures for higher efficiency.
- Increased Conductivity - Conductivity exceeds that of Nafion at any temperature above 60°C.
- Increased Operating Range – Ideal for temperatures up to 150°C.
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