2004 R&D 100 Winner
Popularized within the automotive industry, fuel cell technology continues to make strides as a viable energy source for a variety of applications. At the heart of each cell lies the electrolyte materialtypically a polymer layer responsible for conduction from the anode to the cathode. The high-cost and resiliency of today’s most popular electrolyte materials, however, has hampered commercialization efforts and stymied industry adoption.

In a joint effort, researchers from Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, and Battelle, Columbus, Ohio, have developed a low-cost, high-temperature polymer membrane dubbed Battellion for use in Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cells. The newly-developed polymer membrane can sustain temperatures up to 150°C and boasts a 3-fold improvement in current generation at 0.7 V at 120°C and 40% RH when compared to the industry standard, Nafion.

Battellion also boasts a marked improvement of proton conductivity, increased tolerance to carbon monoxide, and resistance to methanol crossover, a property that will appeal to cell phone and laptop manufacturers.

High-temperature polymer membrane

Virginia Tech