HIGH PERFORMANCE HYDROXYL EXCHANGE MEMBRANE (HEM) FOR ALKALINE FUEL CELL APPLICATIONS
The U.S. Military has a strong need for very high-energy density (>1000 WH/kg), light weight power sources for communications and other advanced electronic devices The possible solution is replacing the battery with proton exchange membrane (PEM) based hydrogen fuel cell. However, hydrogen storage and handling is a problem. Direct oxidation fuel cell (DOFC) with a PEM is a quite attractive alternative. However, due to slow reduction and oxidation kinetics in the acidic media and fuel crossover issue, those systems have not reached their full potentials. It is well known that electrochemical oxidation of fuel and electrochemical reductions of oxygen are kinetically more favorable in an alkaline media at low temperature (T<100oC). Furthermore, alkaline electrolyte offers the best prospects for using non-noble metal as the catalyst. Recent reports showed promising results for alkaline fuel cell based on hydroxyl exchange membrane (HEM). However, due to limited availability and low performance of such membranes, a lot of development work is still urgently needed in order to pave the way for developing high energy density AFCs. A novel HEM has been successfully synthesized and validated in the Phase I program. In this Phase II program, the membrane formula and process will be further optimized. Meanwhile, the manufacturing process will be developed in order to produce the membrane in a continuous coating line. At the completion of the program, a novel HEM, with the following advantages, 1) high ionic conductivity; 2) excellent thermal stability; 3) much better chemical and electrochemical stability; 4) low cost and 5) excellent manufacturability, will be successfully developed and independently validated. This innovative HEM will meet the stringent requirements as the membrane material for both hydrogen based AFC and direct oxidation AFCs.
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