Single Step Manufacturing of Low Catalyst Loading Electrolyzer MEAs

Award Information
Department of Energy
Award Year:
Phase I
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Proton Energy Systems
10 Technology Drive, Wallingford, CT, 06492-1955
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
Katherine Ayers
(203) 678-2190
Business Contact:
Stephen Szymanski
(203) 678-2338
Research Institution:
University of Conneticut School of Engineering

191 Auditorium Rd.
Unit 3222
Storrs, CT, 06269-
() -
Nonprofit college or university
Proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolysis is industrially important as a green source of high purity hydrogen, for chemical applications as well as energy storage. However, the energy required to manufacture these units is still high, due to the multi-step processes employed. Today, the majority of cost and energy use in PEM electrolyzer manufacturing is contributed by the cell stack manufacturing processes. The membrane electrode assembly, the core of the electrochemical device, requires many energy intensive processes in fabrication of the device. In addition, while the energy requirements for raw material procurement are not a direct energy cost for the manufacturer, extraction of the catalyst materials from raw ore is a highly energy intensive process requiring kilowatt hours/gram of pure material produced. To resolve both issues, Proton Energy Systems (d/b/a Proton OnSite), in collaboration with the University of Connecticut, proposes development of a single step approach to manufacturing the membrane MEA for PEM-based water electrolyzers. Using a novel technique for applying the catalyst to the membrane, we will demonstrate the feasibility of reducing the direct manufacturing energy cost of the MEA by over 50%, through elimination of multiple process steps. At the same time, indirect energy savings from mining and refining operations will be reduced by eliminating & gt;90% of the catalyst needed for MEA manufacture. Phase 1 will focus on optimization of the cathode catalyst and electrode for the hydrogen evolution reaction, and identifying an effective approach for significantly improving anode performance for the oxygen evolution reaction. The synthesis methods will be developed to produce high quality catalysts at low cost for large scale production. Electrodes will be fabricated to maximize the catalyst utilization at the cathode. Proton will conduct performance and durability tests, evaluate the results against current state-of-the-art catalysts/electrodes, and refine the energy analysis for the baseline and next generation processes. In Phase 2, process scale up and continued anode optimization will be performed in preparation for commercialization. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits Protons electrolyzers serve a wide variety of applications, including metals processing, chemical manufacturing, electronics manufacturing, hydrogenation, and electrical generator cooling which would benefit from the manufacturing energy savings. This project also enables next generation energy storage solutions through improving manufacturability, as well as large savings in mining energy consumption through reduction in noble metal use by an order of magnitude. All of these technologies are on pathways to commercialization and utilize various Government and internal sources of funding to advance their state of technical readiness. Protons mission is clearly to move advanced technology PEM products into hydrogen energy applications as those markets emerge in the coming years.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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