New High Performance Water Vapor Membranes To Improve Fuel Cell Balance of Plant Efficiency and Lower Costs
As a technology that would dramatically reduce both our dependence on foreign oil and lower carbon dioxide emissions, stationary and transportation fuel cells are very attractive. Although the stationary fuel cell market is well establishes and prototype automotive and bus vehicles have successfully demonstrated practical road tested viability, the overall cost of the technology is still too high. One cost component of the total system is the ability to manage the humidity inside the cell to an optimum level. The benefits are significant, resulting in improved cell performance and durability, lower cost, smaller footprint, lower weight of the balance of the fuel cell plant. Tetramers proposed new membranes are projected to be significantly cheaper than the current perfluorinated alternatives with increased performance and long term durability. Tetramer, working with General Motors, has developed a new partially fluorinated hydrocarbon proton exchange membrane (PEM) for automotive fuel cells which has performance equal to the currently used perflourinated sulfonic acid (PFSA) membranes at half the cost. Although these membranes were specifically designed to enhance proton transport for optimum fuel cell performance, we have surprisingly discovered that they also have excellent water vapor transport properties better than any of the current membrane products with respect to water permeability, but lacking in durability. The objective of this proposal will be synthesis of new membrane molecular architectures designed to enhance water vapor transport WVT (vs. hydrogen ion transport) by 70% over the current Nafion technology, while maintaining or exceeding the 20,000 cycle GM durability test. In addition, these membranes will have 50% projected lower cost than competing fuel cell water vapor membranes.Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: Phase II will involve scale up and commercialization of the automotive application with GM and expansion to non-automotive fuel cell systems with other partners. In addition, other humidification/ dehumidification applications will be explored.
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