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Mid-Temperature Fuel Cells for Vehicles

Ceramatec

Intermediate Temperature Proton Conducting Fuel Cells for Transportation Applications

Ceramatec
Program: 
ARPA-E Award: 
$2,113,985
Location: 
Salt Lake City, UT
Project Term: 
02/01/2013 to 03/31/2017
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Technical Categories: 
Critical Need: 

Fuel cells can generate power for a wide range of electric vehicles (EVs) and stationary power applications, and they have long been touted as the ultimate clean and renewable energy source. Fuel cells are different from batteries in that they require a constant source of fuel and oxygen to run, but they can produce electricity continually for as long as these inputs are supplied. Fuel cells are a highly efficient form of energy conversion, but have not achieved widespread adoption due to high cost. Higher temperature fuel cells require expensive materials and can degrade quickly. Lower temperature fuel cells require precious metals such as platinum as catalysts. Substantial improvements to both the lifetime and cost of fuel cells are necessary in order to enable viable alternatives to battery-operated EVs and stationary power systems.

Project Innovation + Advantages: 

Ceramatec is developing a solid-state fuel cell that operates in an 'intermediate' temperature range that could overcome persistent challenges faced by both high temperature and low temperature fuel cells. The advantages compared to higher temperature fuel cells are less expensive seals and interconnects, as well as longer lifetime. The advantages compared to low temperature fuel cells are reduced platinum requirements and the ability to run on fuels other than hydrogen, such as natural gas or methanol. Ceramatec's design would use a new electrolyte material to transport protons within the cell and advanced electrode layers. The project would engineer a fuel cell stack that performs at lower cost than current automotive designs, and culminate in the building and testing of a short fuel cell stack capable of meeting stringent transportation requirements.

Potential Impact: 

If successful, Ceramatec's solid-state fuel cell would help power EVs at a cost and driving range similar to lithium-ion batteries.

Security: 

The successful commercialization of this technology would directly enhance the economic and energy security of the U.S. by reducing the dependence of the automotive sector on foreign oil.

Environment: 

Enabling the widespread use of fuel cells for advanced vehicle technologies could significantly improve the energy efficiency and emissions of the automotive sector.

Economy: 

This technology would ensure the U.S. maintains a technological lead in developing and deploying advanced energy technologies.

Contacts
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Paul Albertus
Project Contact: 
Dr. S. Elangovan
Partners
Los Alamos National Laboratory
Nissan Technical Center North America
Release Date: 
11/28/2012