The Hawai‘i Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) is conducting research to develop novel filtration materials and air filtration technologies designed to extend the range of environmental conditions in which fuel cells can safely operate.

A major challenge to implementing fuel cell technology into transportation is the degradation in performance over time of the costly fuel cell power plant, partially due to air contamination entering the fuel cell from the environment in which it operates. HNEI, in collaboration with the Hawai’i Center for Advanced Transportation Technologies (HCATT), the Federal Highways Administration, and Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park (HAVO), is planning to operate two fuel-cell electric buses in HAVO which will serve as an in-field demonstration of 1) the consumption of hydrogen within the larger hydrogen lifecycle context, and 2) the operation of fuel cell vehicles in harsh environmental conditions through the use of a novel Environmental Sensor Array and operational protocols developed at HNEI.

The hardware, protocols and novel air filtration materials developed in this project will allow fuel cells to operate in harsher environmental conditions without suffering degradation in performance. The technology is also expected to extend the operating life of fuel cells operating in normal environments.

Point Person: Scott Higgins