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Modular UltraStable Alkaline Exchange Ionomers to Enable High Performing Fuel Cell and Electrolyzer Systems

ARPA-E Award: 
Ithaca, NY
Project Term: 
03/29/2019 to 03/28/2022
Project Status: 
Technical Categories: 
Critical Need: 
Hydrogen technology has held the promise of enabling renewable energy for more than 30 years. The primary barrier for adoption is the price tag; the materials that comprise fuel cells and electrolyzer stacks drive most of the cost. Until now, there have been limited alternative materials.
Project Innovation + Advantages: 
Ecolectro is developing alkaline exchange ionomers (AEIs) to enable low-cost fuel cell and electrolyzer technologies. Ecolectro's AEIs will be resilient to the harsh operating conditions present in existing alkaline exchange membrane devices that prevent their widespread adoption in commercial applications. This technology will be simple, cost effective, and well suited to large-scale processing. Further, membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs) featuring Ecolectro's AEIs will demonstrate comparable durability and improved efficiency over existing state-of-the-art proton exchange membranes without the need in platinum group metals.
Potential Impact: 
This project will potentially reduce the cost of fuel cell and electrolysis stack production by 40%. Widespread adoption of hydrogen technologies enabled by this outcome will:
Increase the diversity of renewable fuels, including energy-dense liquid fuels, bolstering energy security
Reduce emissions by developing cleaner fuels and higher efficiency fuel use (fuel cells vs. internal combustion technologies)
Ensure the USA maintains a leading position in the $1.3B membrane electrode assembly (MEA) hydrogen fuel cell market. Fuel cell and electrolyzer original equipment manufacturers will benefit from lower components cost and more durable MEA materials.
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Grigorii Soloveichik
Project Contact: 
Dr. Kristina Hugar
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Release Date: