Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Membrane “nano-fasteners” key to next-generation fuel cells

09.11.2015

Scientists at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have developed a new way of making fuel cell membranes using nanoscale fasteners, paving the way for lower-cost, higher-efficiency and more easily manufactured fuel cells.

The internal workings of fuel cells vary, but basically all types mix hydrogen and oxygen to produce a chemical reaction that delivers usable electricity and exhausts ordinary water as a by-product. One of the most efficient types is the proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell, which operates at low enough temperatures to be used in homes and vehicles.


Schematic Diagram of the Fabrication of the Pillar P-SPAES Membrane and Its Working Principle of Interlocking Effects.

Copyright : KAIST

To generate electricity, PEM fuel cells rely on two chemical compartments separated by a permeable catalyst membrane. This membrane acts as an electrolyte; a negative electrode is bonded to one side of the membrane and a positive electrode is bonded to the other. The electrolyte membrane is often based on a polymer of perfluorosulfonic acid. Due to its high cost, however, a less expensive hydrocarbon-based electrolyte membrane has attracted interest in this technology sector.

Until now, the challenge in adopting such a hydrocarbon membrane has been that the interface between the electrode and hydrocarbon membrane is weak. This causes the membrane to delaminate relatively easily, falling apart and losing efficiency with use.

Professor Hee-Tak Kim of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and his research team have developed a new fastening system that bonds the two materials mechanically rather than chemically. This opens the way to the development of fuel cell membranes that are less expensive, easier to manufacture, stronger and more efficient.

The researchers achieved this by moulding a pattern of tiny cylindrical pillars on the face of the hydrocarbon membrane. The pillars protrude into a softened skin of the electrode with heat. The mechanical bond sets and strengthens as the material cools and absorbs water. The pillar-patterned hydrocarbon membrane is cast using silicone moulds.

Professor Kim said, “This physically fastened bond is almost five times stronger and harder to separate than current bonds between the same layers.”

The new interlocking method also appears to offer a way to bond many types of hydrocarbon membranes that, until now, have been rejected because they couldn’t be fastened robustly. This would make hydrocarbon membranes practical for a number of applications beyond fuel cells such as rechargeable “redox flow” batteries.

The research team is now developing a stronger and more scalable interlocking interface for their nanoscale fasteners.

CONTACT:

Lan Yoon
The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)
Tel. +82-42-350-2295
Fax. +82-42-350-2260
hlyoon@kaist.ac.kr
  www.kaist.edu


Associated links
Original press release from KAIST

Lan Yoon | Research SEA
Further information:
http://www.researchsea.com

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht In borophene, boundaries are no barrier
17.07.2018 | Rice University

nachricht Research finds new molecular structures in boron-based nanoclusters
13.07.2018 | Brown University

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Microscopic trampoline may help create networks of quantum computers

17.07.2018 | Information Technology

In borophene, boundaries are no barrier

17.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

The role of Sodium for the Enhancement of Solar Cells

17.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>