HNEI’s fuel cell research, conducted at the Fuel Cell Systems Laboratory, is focused on the development, testing, and characterization of materials, components, small systems, and operation procedures for polymer electrolyte fuel cells, hybrid, and derivative technologies for commercial and defense applications, including unmanned aerial and undersea vehicles.
Work in these areas include (i) improving methods to characterize reactant mass transfer to increase current densities during operation and reduce fuel cell stack cost, (ii) creating efficient and durable transition metal carbide catalysts, which are inherently cheap and naturally abundant for renewable energy applications, (iii) establishing test methods to assess chemicals used in hydrogen refueling stations (standard SAE J3219), (iv) developing electrolytes for flow batteries to improve system power density and durability, (v) developing water purification technologies using fuel cell materials and structures, and (vi) collaborating with the Naval Research Laboratory on the development of fuel cell technology for unmanned vehicles. Many of these activities leverage extensive experience with fuel cell contamination aspects (impacts, mechanisms, mitigation strategies) and the development of characterization techniques.
HNEI researchers conduct basic and applied research to develop advanced diagnostic and prognostic capabilities for battery systems. The effort is conducted in the PakaLi Battery Laboratory (PBL). PBL researchers investigate the mechanisms controlling battery degradation in state of the art and near-term interest technologies for grid ancillary services, electric vehicles (EVs), and components of power systems for unmanned vehicles.
PBL work also includes battery prototyping, the modeling of large battery systems, and the monitoring of deployed battery systems. This work supports HNEI’s grid-scale battery deployments (see Grid Technology) and work to enable the integration of EVs into the grid (see Transportation).