Colorado Fuel Cell Center wins award to scale up novel fuel cells

A natural-gas-fueled proton-conducting ceramic fuel cell.

Illustration of a natural-gas-fueled proton-conducting ceramic fuel cell.

The U.S. Department of Energy awarded a program to the Colorado Fuel Cell Center in collaboration with the Georgia Institute of Technology (GeorgiaTech). The objective of this new program is to scale up fuel cell technology developed at GeorgiaTech to the small-stack level. The physical size of the fuel cells will be increased by a factor of ten, and multiple cells would be integrated into a fuel-cell stack. Stack integration increases voltage and power, and provides an important proof-of-concept regarding the novel fuel-cell materials. Additionally, techno-economic analyses will be executed to quantify the cost benefit of the new fuel-cell materials set and technology.

As shown in the figure, the novel fuel cell technology utilizes a composite electrolyte that transports both protons (H+) and oxygen ions (O2-). Scandia-doped ceria (SDC) serves as the oxygen-ion conductor, while barium cerate-zirconate serves as the proton conductor. This combination of materials and novel catalysts results in exceptional cell performance on practical fuels, such as natural gas and methane.

Prof. Neal Sullivan serves as Primary Investigator on the program, and will execute the stack development and testing. Prof. Robert Braun serves as Co-PI, and will develop the computation models utilized in the techno-economic analyses. This effort is supported by DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E). The program runs through 2018.