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Long-life PEM-FCH &CHP systems at temperatures higher than100°C

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Scientists improve solid-state fuel cells

Advanced materials researchers have discovered ways to improve solid-state fuel cells by widening the temperature range in which they can operate.

Energy

Clean power-generation technology has advanced in leaps and bounds in recent years in response to growing pressures to decrease fossil fuel use. Polymeric electrolyte membrane fuel cell hydrogen (PEM-FCH) systems represent one alternative, but they operate in a very narrow range of temperatures. A broader temperature range would offer advantages such as longer lifespan of the fuel cells, combined heat and power (CHP) applications, and improved fuel use. The EU funded the 'Long-life PEM-FCH &CHP systems at temperatures higher than100 degrees Celsius' (LOLIPEM) project to make this a reality. Researchers developed methods to treat membranes used in the fuel cells, which improved their performance at higher temperatures — up to 140 degrees Celsius. Previously, these cells only operated up to 80 degrees Celsius. The team also demonstrated improved electricity generation, better stability and enhanced mechanical properties in some membranes at this temperature. Long-term tests revealed an improved lifespan as well. Another aspect of the project focused on developing new catalysts for PEM-FCH systems. These performed as well as their commercial counterparts, and the system could use up more of the catalyst provided. These advances mean that LOLIPEM has contributed to define the state of the art for PEM-FCH systems. The project results can be used to produce new fuel cells for commercial use.

Keywords

Solid-state fuel cells, fuel cells, temperature range, clean power, polymeric electrolyte membrane fuel cell hydrogen, combined heat and power, electricity generation

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