Direct Ammonia Fuel Cells

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Newark, Delaware
Project Term:
04/01/2017 - 09/30/2020

Technology Description:

The University of Delaware (UD) will develop a direct ammonia fuel cell operating near 100°C that will efficiently convert ammonia to electricity for electric vehicles and other applications. The team will develop new materials, including low-cost, high-performance hydroxide exchange membranes (HEMs) that can maintain stability near 100°C and novel ammonia oxidation catalysts. Proton exchange membranes are traditionally used in fuel cell applications, but HEMs have a number of advantages when ammonia is used as the direct fuel source including reduced side-reactions, prevention of ammonia crossover, and enabling of the use of lower cost catalysts. Finally, the team will target new developments in the full membrane electrode assembly structure and metal hardware fuel cell stack design, optimizing the system's operating conditions for effective water management and minimized fuel crossover. The goal is an ammonia-fed, cost-competitive fuel cell generating high power density, with rapid start-up enabled by the low operating temperature.

Potential Impact:

If successful, developments from REFUEL projects will enable energy generated from domestic, renewable resources to increase fuel diversity in the transportation sector in a cost-effective and efficient way.


The U.S. transportation sector is heavily dependent on petroleum for its energy. Increasing the diversity of energy-dense liquid fuels would bolster energy security and help reduce energy imports.


Liquid fuels created using energy from renewable resources are carbon-neutral, helping reduce transportation sector emissions.


Fuel diversity reduces exposure to price volatility. By storing energy in hydrogen-rich liquid fuels instead of pure hydrogen in liquid or gaseous form, transportation costs can be greatly reduced, helping make CNLFs cost-competitive with traditional fuels.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Halle Cheeseman
Project Contact:
Prof. Shimshon Gottesfeld
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


Xergy Incorporation
Brookhaven National Laboratory
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

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