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Title: Low-Cost Proton Conducting Membranes for PEM Fuel Cells

Abstract

Proton exchange membrane (PEM) is the key component in PEM fuel cells that critically determines the system performance and its economic viability. Presently, the state-of-the-art PEMs, such as Nafion membranes, are based on perfluorosulfonic acid (PFSA) ionomers. But these ionomer materials are expensive, particularly at the low volumes that will be needed for initial commercialization. Besides, they are not suitable for fuel cells operated beyond 100°C, because of the limitations connected to the humidification requirement of such membrane materials, limiting the maximum operating temperature to about 90°C. Fuel cells for transportation applications are required to operate in a wide temperature range from –20°C to 120°C. Low-cost PEMs with capabilities in a range of temperature and humidity conditions are urgently needed to meet the DOE fuel cell targets for transportation applications. Amsen Technologies LLC chooses to address the DOE call with a novel reinforced PEM approach based on new, non-PFSA proton conducting ionomers developed from our previous DOE SBIR projects. Along with this approach is the use of very cheap, ultra thin and highly porous microporous polymer meshes as the support for the membrane. The new PEM is expected to have significant cost advantages over traditional PEMs. The microporous polyolefin supportmore » costs $2-3/m 2; and the new ionomers that Amsen has developed are estimated at ~$250/kg at the higher end including material costs and labor costs (which may go down in the future as the processing is optimized and production scaled up). These have led to an estimate of total material cost for the membrane at $11 to $12/m 2, offering high potential of meeting the DOE cost targets (≤$20/m 2) after adding processing cost and profit margin. The Phase I results have successfully demonstrated that it is very promising to develop the intended low-cost, high-performance PEM membrane. Suitable material system has been identified, and suitable process for forming the new PEM has been developed. Uniform membranes have been reproducibly fabricated. These membranes have been extensively characterized and evaluated in terms of microstructural features, and relevant physical and chemical properties including proton conductivity and area specific proton resistance in a range of temperature and humidity conditions, resistance to electronic conduction, water uptake/swelling, dimensional stability, chemical stability, and mechanical durability. Membrane electrode assemblies (MEA) with the new membrane have been successfully prepared and tested for fuel cell operation. The new PEM showed higher proton conductivity than Nafion membranes for all measurement conditions used in Phase I. With high proton conductivity and ultra-thin thickness (~20 /m), the new membrane showed high promise to met DOE targets for the low ASR. The ASR targets have been met for relatively high RH but not yet for RH ≤ 70%. Further optimization in ionomer chemistry and membrane processing is needed in order to meet the ASR targets for a wide range of temperature and humidity conditions. The new membrane showed fairly high electronic resistance at 1373 ohm cm 2, meeting the DOE target for electronic resistance (> 1000 ohm cm 2). The new membrane also has demonstrated promisingly high chemical stability, high mechanical durability, and high dimensional stability. Fuel cell operation using MEAs with the new membrane have shown the same level of fuel cell performance as MEAs with Nafion membranes. Overall, the new membrane has been demonstrated to have high potential of meeting all DOE performance targets for fuel cell applications as well as the cost targets. The manufacturers of PEM fuel cells, PEM electrolyzers, redox flow batteries, and MEA are the end-users and customers of PEMs. For commercialization purpose and potential partnering relations, we have been talking with many such manufacturers. They have responded with extremely high interest in the new PEM being developed in the present technology. Accomplishments so far have laid down a strong base for Amsen to further the development efforts on this new PEM and to pursue commercialization. The near-term future work will be mainly focused on further development and systematical optimization of the material system, processing, and performance of the new membrane; systematical evaluation of the new membrane in terms of all relevant properties including long-term mechanical, chemical, and combined chemical/mechanical durabilities using DOE specified testing protocols; development of production scale-up scheme; and preparation for commercialization.« less

Authors:
 [1]
  1. Amsen Technologies LLC, Tucson, AZ (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Amsen Technologies LLC, Tucson, AZ (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC)
OSTI Identifier:
1401967
Report Number(s):
DOE-AMSEN-0015203-Ph1
DOE Contract Number:  
SC0015203
Type / Phase:
SBIR (Phase I)
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
08 HYDROGEN; Fuel Cells; Ion exchange Membrane; Proton Exchange Membrane; Proton-Conducting Membrane; PEM.

Citation Formats

Hu, Hongxing. Low-Cost Proton Conducting Membranes for PEM Fuel Cells. United States: N. p., 2016. Web.
Hu, Hongxing. Low-Cost Proton Conducting Membranes for PEM Fuel Cells. United States.
Hu, Hongxing. Tue . "Low-Cost Proton Conducting Membranes for PEM Fuel Cells". United States.
@article{osti_1401967,
title = {Low-Cost Proton Conducting Membranes for PEM Fuel Cells},
author = {Hu, Hongxing},
abstractNote = {Proton exchange membrane (PEM) is the key component in PEM fuel cells that critically determines the system performance and its economic viability. Presently, the state-of-the-art PEMs, such as Nafion membranes, are based on perfluorosulfonic acid (PFSA) ionomers. But these ionomer materials are expensive, particularly at the low volumes that will be needed for initial commercialization. Besides, they are not suitable for fuel cells operated beyond 100°C, because of the limitations connected to the humidification requirement of such membrane materials, limiting the maximum operating temperature to about 90°C. Fuel cells for transportation applications are required to operate in a wide temperature range from –20°C to 120°C. Low-cost PEMs with capabilities in a range of temperature and humidity conditions are urgently needed to meet the DOE fuel cell targets for transportation applications. Amsen Technologies LLC chooses to address the DOE call with a novel reinforced PEM approach based on new, non-PFSA proton conducting ionomers developed from our previous DOE SBIR projects. Along with this approach is the use of very cheap, ultra thin and highly porous microporous polymer meshes as the support for the membrane. The new PEM is expected to have significant cost advantages over traditional PEMs. The microporous polyolefin support costs $2-3/m2; and the new ionomers that Amsen has developed are estimated at ~$250/kg at the higher end including material costs and labor costs (which may go down in the future as the processing is optimized and production scaled up). These have led to an estimate of total material cost for the membrane at $11 to $12/m2, offering high potential of meeting the DOE cost targets (≤$20/m2) after adding processing cost and profit margin. The Phase I results have successfully demonstrated that it is very promising to develop the intended low-cost, high-performance PEM membrane. Suitable material system has been identified, and suitable process for forming the new PEM has been developed. Uniform membranes have been reproducibly fabricated. These membranes have been extensively characterized and evaluated in terms of microstructural features, and relevant physical and chemical properties including proton conductivity and area specific proton resistance in a range of temperature and humidity conditions, resistance to electronic conduction, water uptake/swelling, dimensional stability, chemical stability, and mechanical durability. Membrane electrode assemblies (MEA) with the new membrane have been successfully prepared and tested for fuel cell operation. The new PEM showed higher proton conductivity than Nafion membranes for all measurement conditions used in Phase I. With high proton conductivity and ultra-thin thickness (~20 /m), the new membrane showed high promise to met DOE targets for the low ASR. The ASR targets have been met for relatively high RH but not yet for RH ≤ 70%. Further optimization in ionomer chemistry and membrane processing is needed in order to meet the ASR targets for a wide range of temperature and humidity conditions. The new membrane showed fairly high electronic resistance at 1373 ohm cm2, meeting the DOE target for electronic resistance (> 1000 ohm cm2). The new membrane also has demonstrated promisingly high chemical stability, high mechanical durability, and high dimensional stability. Fuel cell operation using MEAs with the new membrane have shown the same level of fuel cell performance as MEAs with Nafion membranes. Overall, the new membrane has been demonstrated to have high potential of meeting all DOE performance targets for fuel cell applications as well as the cost targets. The manufacturers of PEM fuel cells, PEM electrolyzers, redox flow batteries, and MEA are the end-users and customers of PEMs. For commercialization purpose and potential partnering relations, we have been talking with many such manufacturers. They have responded with extremely high interest in the new PEM being developed in the present technology. Accomplishments so far have laid down a strong base for Amsen to further the development efforts on this new PEM and to pursue commercialization. The near-term future work will be mainly focused on further development and systematical optimization of the material system, processing, and performance of the new membrane; systematical evaluation of the new membrane in terms of all relevant properties including long-term mechanical, chemical, and combined chemical/mechanical durabilities using DOE specified testing protocols; development of production scale-up scheme; and preparation for commercialization.},
doi = {},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {2016},
month = {12}
}

Technical Report:
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