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Transportation Energy Conversion

Tetramer Technologies, L.L.C.

Novel High Peformance Anionic Exchange Membranes with Enhanced Stability High Temperatures

Tetramer Technologies will develop an anion exchange membrane (AEM) as an alternative to proton exchange membranes (PEM) for use in fuel cells and electrolyzers. The team will test a newly developed AEM for stability in alkaline conditions at a temperature of 80°C, enhanced ion conductivity, controlled membrane swelling, and other required properties. Industry has not yet achieved a cost-effective, commercially viable AEM with long-term chemical and physical stability. If such AEMs could be developed, then AEM-fuel cells could use inexpensive, non-precious metal catalysts, as opposed to expensive metal catalysts like platinum. Platinum in PEM fuel cells accounts for close to 50% of the total fuel cell stack cost at high volume, while the acid-resistant bipolar plates account for an additional 22% of the total stack cost. In alkaline conditions, switching precious metals for cheaper metal catalysts could reduce stack costs by an estimated 50%, which would result in a 25% lower overall vehicle fuel cell system cost. If successful, the team's polymers could produce a pathway toward dramatically cheaper fuel cells that exhibit comparable or better performance to today's fuel cells.

University of Delaware

Quaternary Phosphonium Based Hydroxide Exchange Membranes

The University of Delaware (UD) is developing a new fuel cell membrane for vehicles that relies on cheaper and more abundant materials than those used in current fuel cells. Conventional fuel cells are very acidic, so they require acid-resistant metals like platinum to generate electricity. UD is developing an alkaline fuel cell membrane that can operate in a non-acidic environment where cheaper materials like nickel and silver, instead of platinum, can be used. In addition to enabling the use of cheaper metals, UD's membrane is 500 times less expensive than other polymer membranes used in conventional fuel cells.

University of Delaware

High-Energy Permanent Magnets for Hybrid Vehicles and Alternative Energy

The University of Delaware (UD) is developing permanent magnets that contain less rare earth material and produce twice the energy of the strongest rare earth magnets currently available. UD is creating these magnets by mixing existing permanent magnet materials with those that are more abundant, like iron. Both materials are first prepared in the form of nanoparticles via techniques ranging from wet chemistry to ball milling. After that, the nanoparticles must be assembled in a 3-D array and consolidated at low temperatures to form a magnet. With small size particles and good contact between these two materials, the best qualities of each allow for the development of exceptionally strong composite magnets.

University of Michigan

Split Micro-Hybrid Boosting Enabling Highly Diluted Combustion

The University of Michigan team will develop a compact micro-hybrid configuration that pairs an Electrically Assisted Variable Speed (EAVS) supercharger with an exhaust expander Waste Energy Recovery (WER) system. Together, the EAVS and WER can nearly eliminate the slow air-path dynamics associated with turbocharge inertia and high exhaust gas recirculation (EGR). The EAVS system compresses engine intake air to increase engine power and allows the engine to have valuable "breathing time." This breathing time allows for a coordinated intake boosting and exhaust vacuum, so that the combustion timing and fueling is always optimal. Meanwhile, the WER system will capture exhaust energy, store it in a low-voltage battery together with energy from regenerative braking and later reuse it to assist the engine under transient acceleration loads, helping to further increase fuel efficiency. The team's innovation could increase fuel economy in advanced vehicles by 20%.

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