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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/I037024/1
Title: "Mind the Gap" - jumping the hurdles limiting polymer fuel cell performance and commercialisation
Principal Investigator: Kucernak, Professor A
Other Investigators:
Scott, Professor K Brett, Professor D
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Bac2 Ltd Intelligent Energy Ltd National Physical Laboratory NPL
Department: Chemistry
Organisation: Imperial College London
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 30 November 2011 Ends: 31 August 2015 Value (£): 1,037,942
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Fuel Cell Technologies
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
15 Mar 2011 India-UK Collaborative Research Initiative in Fuel Cells Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
In this proposal we are bringing together a number of individuals and institutions with a varied and complimentary skill set appropriate for the proposed work. All members of the team have an extensive and world-class background in fuel cell research and development, and the institutions which they work are well provisioned to undertake this work. Furthermore we are supported by a number of Institutions and companies.

The project is based around four research work packages and one coordinating work package.

* Operation of fuel cells on "dirty" fuels

Fuel cells typically require high quality hydrogen to prevent the poisoning of catalysts and membranes. This not only increases the cost of fuels, but limits the possible sources that can be used unless extensive clean-up methods are used. We intend to study the poisoning mechanism and poison content of fuels/air; develop catalysts with improved poison resistance. The goal is improvement in operation of fuel cells on typically available fuels in the near term, and use of "dirtier fuels" (biogenic sources) in the longer term.

* Reduction of the cost of fuel cells

Catalyst costs are one of the major components of fuel cell system cost (~25-30% of total). We intend to look at reduced platinum loading systems and how these systems interact with poor quality fuel/air. In the short term the desire is to reduce the cost and catalyst requirements. Over the longer term there is the desire to transition to new catalysts. Hence, we will also look at the development of new non-precious metal (or reduced precious metal) catalysts and the integration of these catalysts with new catalyst supports.

* Improvement in fuel cell longevity

Fuel cell longevity is a function of catalyst degradation and extreme conditions occurring during start-up/shut down and other extraneous events. Within this work package we will examine diagnostics to interrogate and understand the degradation processes and the development of improved catalyst supports and catalysts to resist degradation.

* Improving fuel cell systems efficiency

Improving fuel cell efficiency is associated with diagnosing the bottlenecks and those areas where the majority of losses are occurring. We will facilitate this process by developing and applying a range of in-cell and in-stack approaches to understand where those efficiency losses are occurring. At the same time we will examine the development of fuel cell balance of plant components to improve system efficiency. These approaches will be coupled with system modeling to assess the best areas to achieve performance gains.

Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.imperial.ac.uk