Lower Cost Fuel Cells

Physical Sciences : Materials and Compounds

Available for licensing

Inventors

  • Allen Bard, Ph.D. , Chemistry and Biochemistry
  • Arumugam Manthiram, Ph.D. , Mechanical Engineering
  • Jose Fernandez, Ph.D. , Chemistry and Biochemistry
  • Raghuveer Vadari, Ph.D. , Mechanical Engineering

Background/unmet need

The advantages of fuel cell use are compelling. Fuel cells are cleaner and safer for the environment, and they offer an alternative to petroleum-burning internal combustion engines. The U.S. EPA states that accelerating the development of fuel cells and hydrogen is one of the most effective strategies government can pursue for cutting air emissions, responding to climate change, reducing dependence on Mideast oil, and making the U.S. energy system less vulnerable to terrorism.

It is commonly known that one of the main problems associated with widespread use of fuel cells is the prohibitive cost, and a source of this high cost is the use of expensive platinum-based electrocatalysts.

Invention Description

This technology describes an inexpensive, metallic nonplatinum-based fuel cell electrocatalyst. This solution offers not only reduced cost of the fuel cell catalyst but also improved performance.

Benefits/Advantages

  • Performance equal to or better than platinum catalysts
  • Less expensive
  • Less sensitive to methanol
  • Potentially more stable with Nafion membranes

Features

    Palladium-based electrocatalysts

Market potential/applications

It is estimated that the global fuel cell market will exceed $18.6 billion by 2013. Fuel cell technology is expected to greatly impact several major markets through the replacement of current technology. These applications include embedded electronic devices, where fuel cells would serve as a replacement of lithium ion batteries in notebook computers, cell phones and wireless applications. In addition to this, fuel cells have enormous potential as a replacement for automotive internal combustion engines and as a replacement of off grid small power and grid production power plants.

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